FTSE 100 company Corus Group is seeking a new head of legal after the abrupt departure of Margaret O'Neill.
O'Neill spent 15 years at the company and was the group's director of corporate legal services. Her departure is shrouded in mystery, with colleagues unclear about her future plans. Corus, formerly British Steel, is one of the world's largest steel companies and has just appointed a new chief executive. Joint chief executives John Bryant and Fokko van Duyne both quit at the end of last year to be replaced temporarily by part-time chairman Sir Brian Moffat. Moffat has just been replaced by Anthony Pedder, who was previously responsible for the strip portfolio of businesses. The changes coincided with O'Neill's departure. An internal announcement told Corus employees: "Margaret O'Neill, director of corporate legal services, has decided to take early retirement and leave the company." It said that Ian Fowler, another lawyer in the department, will stand in until a replacement is found. Corus uses a host of law firms in the City, but its principal external adviser is Slaughter and May. Lovells has also handled some work for the company in the past. One City partner told The Lawyer: "Her departure is a big shock; I don't think anybody in Corus knows where she's gone. She's been there a very long time."