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CFOs on the Move: Week ending November 30

Akzo Nobel, Tata Steel, Legrand, Swiss Life, Wellcome Trust, Nichols, Hornby, Informa, Minerva Resources, IM Internationalmedia, Blacks Leisure
Eila RanaDecember 3, 2007

• Rob Frohn, CFO of Dutch chemicals company Akzo Nobel, will step down from his role after the £8 billion acquisition of UK rival ICI is completed early next year. In May 2008 he will become head of Akzo Nobel’s chemicals units—a move that will allow him to “fulfil his ambition of returning to a business leadership role after spending the last four transformational years as CFO,” according to the company. Keith Nichols, currently senior vice president for finance, will succeed Frohn as CFO. Nichols joined Akzo Nobel in December 2005 from Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steel group, where he was group treasurer.

• India-based Tata Steel, which recently acquired Corus, has appointed Koushik Chatterjee as group CFO. Chatterjee’s finance function will be centralised from January 2008 as part of a structural reorganisation designed to make the company more efficient.

• Legrand, the French electrical equipment maker, has appointed Antoine Burel as its new group CFO. Burel, formerly group financial controller, replaces Patrice Soudan, who becomes joint deputy chief operating officer and group vice president of the wiring devices and home systems division.

• Bruno Pfister, a former CFO of Swiss Life—Switzerland’s largest life insurer—has been appointed CEO of the company. Pfister, currently head of the insurer’s international business, replaces Rolf Dörig who will join the company’s board and become chairman in 2010.

• Naguib Kheraj, the former finance director of UK bank Barclays, has joined the investment committee of the Wellcome Trust—the world’s second largest endowment fund and the UK’s biggest charity, with more than £14 billion in assets under management. In 2007, it teamed up with private equity firm Terra Firma to make a failed £10 billion bid for Alliance Boots, the UK pharmacy company. Sir William Castell, the trust’s chairman, said it was expanding its pool of investment advisers “to continue to populate the investment committee with a different blend of skills to continue to perform well.” Kheraj stepped down from Barclays in March 2007 after ten years with the bank, but stayed on to help with the failed bid for Dutch rival ABN Amro.

• Brendan Hynes, who quit as finance director of UK drinks company Nichols earlier this year—but then changed his mind, has been rewarded for his loyalty with a promotion to chief executive. Hynes was due to join cake maker Inter Link Foods as finance director but delayed his departure when Nichols became involved in takeover talks, which ultimately proved unfruitful. In May, Hynes announced that he would stay at Nichols. The company has started a search for a new finance chief.

• Hornby, the UK-based model train and Scalextric maker, has appointed Andrew Morris as its new group finance director. Morris, formerly finance director at Speedo, the swimwear group, replaces John Stansfield who will continue in his additional role as finance director of the group’s Hornby Hobbies division.

• Adam Walker, finance director of UK public transport company National Express Group, is to join Informa—the UK publishing group—as finance chief in February 2008. Walker joined National Express in October 2001 as corporate development director and became group finance director in March 2003.

• Minerva Resources, the UK-based mineral explorer and developer, has appointed Gary Vermaak as CFO, effective January 2008. “Gary brings a wealth of accounting and financial experience to the company, with particular relevance to the mineral sector in Africa,” says Terry Ward, Minerva Resources’ managing director.

• Sascha Konzack has resigned as CFO of IM Internationalmedia—the German independent film company—”due to personal reasons.” However, the company said Konzack would continue to support new CEO Konstantin Thoeren temporarily so that upcoming disclosure and reporting requirements could be properly met. Thoeren joined the company in October after former CEO Martin Schuermann stepped down from the role in July. Konzack was sole member of the management board in the interim.

• Keith Fleming, acting chief executive of Blacks Leisure, the UK outdoor clothing company, has been given the consolation prize of deputy chief executive and finance director after rebel shareholders threatened to overrule his appointment as CEO. Fleming was thought to have been the preferred choice of chairman David Bernstein, but the top job eventually went to Neil Gillis, the former CEO of UK health and fitness company Esporta.