Newswatch: ICI governance king retires

ICI chairman Sir Ronnie Hampel, author of the controversial Hampel report on corporate governance, steps down today after overseeing last week’s #1.7bn sale of four of the chemical giant’s businesses in a bid to reduce its debt mountain.

Chief financial officer Alan Spall has been busy working on the complex deal under which US petrochemicals magnate Jon Huntsman will acquire the industrial chemicals businesses through a new company, Huntsman ICI. Finance staff are among 7,000 affected employees who will now work for Huntsman.

The structure was designed to keep US financial regulators at bay and will see ICI maintain an interest in the joint company for at least three years.

Hampel will be replaced by chief executive Charles Miller Smith at today’s agm, who in turn will be replaced by former Guinness chief operating officer Brendan O’Neill.

Hampel bows out having reduced ICI’s debts and taken it further towards becoming a manufacturer of speciality chemicals.

Publication of the Hampel report stirred controversy last year as it was consolidated, along with the Cadbury and Greenbury reports, into the Stock Exchange ‘supercode’. Its launch in January 1999 was criticised by senior accountants who said it was impossible to comply with because of lack of guidelines.

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