Rank shares fall as Xerox chief joins Gestetner

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SHARES in Rank fell 9p to 761p yesterday after Gestetner, the office products distributor in which Inchcape recently took a 15 per cent stake, poached the UK chairman of Rank Xerox, an associated company.

Gestetner and Inchcape both benefited, up 7p to 146p and 9.5p to 554p respectively.

A spokesman for Rank said he was surprised by the market's reaction. David Thompson, who had been chairman of Rank Xerox UK, was not a member of Rank Xerox's main board and headed only the company's third-biggest European division.

Mr Thompson joined Rank Xerox 27 years ago from IBM. He was a main board director until 1991. He replaces Basil Sellars, former chairman and chief executive of Gestetner, who owns 20 per cent of the company from which Inchcape bought its stake in May.

In June Gestetner reported a pounds 45.4m loss after a pounds 48.3m provision to cover an extensive restructuring of its European operations. The company also warned that trading continued to be difficult.

Yesterday, Mr Thompson said the emphasis would remain on cost-cutting. Gestetner's workforce has been cut over the past two years by 1,000 to about 10,500 with a similar reduction expected over the next 18 months.