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McAdam to retire as Rentokil and United Utilities chair

(c) Sky News 2018: <a href="">McAdam to retire as Rentokil and United Utilities chair</a>

Two FTSE-100 companies with a combined market value of almost £11bn are kicking off the search for new chairs as John McAdam, the veteran industrialist, prepares to step down after more than a decade at the helm.

Sky News has learnt that both Rentokil, the pest control and facilities management group, and United Utilities (LSE: UU.L - news) , the water company, have begun hunting successors to Mr McAdam, who joined both companies in 2008.

Boardroom search firms have been hired by both Rentokil and UU, City sources said on Tuesday.

The appointment of new chairs at the two businesses will bring the curtain down on a long public company career for Mr McAdam, who spent more than two decades at Unilever (NYSE: UL - news) before joining ICI, where he became chief executive in 2003.

A search for his successor at UU, which had a market capitalisation of just over £5bn at Tuesday's close, has got underway amid anxiety in the City about the fate of the UK water sector following a Labour Party pledge to nationalise it.

Mr McAdam's departure from the two companies also comes as little surprise in the context of revised guidance from corporate governance watchdogs that listed companies 'comply or explain' if their chairs have served for more than nine years.

He is one of a handful of people who hold more than one chairmanship in London's blue-chip share index, but has faced little pressure to relinquish either even as investor concerns about so-called 'overboarding' have risen up the shareholder engagement agenda.

A UU spokeswoman confirmed that a search for Mr McAdam's successor was in its early stages, and said he would not step down from its board until a successor had been appointed.

Rentokil declined to comment.