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Sir Colin takes up top job number 3

Sir Colin Marshall yesterday collected his third chairmanship of a large British company after Siebe, the engineering group, announced that he would be taking over when its founder and current chairman, Barrie Stephens, steps down in May next year.

Sir Colin is already chairman of British Airways and chairman of the international motor distributor and marketing group Inchcape in addition to being deputy chairman of British Telecom, president of the Confederation of British Industry, a non-executive director of the banking group, HSBC Holdings, and a director of the New York Stock Exchange.

He rejected suggestions, however, that he was in danger of spreading his skills too thinly. In theory he will spend two and a half days a week on BA business, one and a half days with Inchcape and one day a week at Siebe, where he will only take up the chairmanship once he has retired as CBI president.

"The reality is I will spend whatever time is required on each interest. You don't always have to be in the office. You can do an awful lot on the telephone or by e-mail."

Sir Colin also pointed out that since BA and Inchcape were international businesses, he could work often for the two companies at the same time during his frequent trips abroad.

He is paid pounds 265,000 a year by BA, pounds 200,000 a year by Inchcape and pounds 65,000 a year by BT.

Sir Colin said he was confident that he would not be overstretched. He pointed out that he had coped in the last three weeks despite the strike at BA, the crisis at BT sparked by the MCI profit warning and preparation required for the CBI's announcement about its position on economic and monetary union.

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