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Liberty Hires Durant as Finance Chief as Smith Leaves

Liberty International Plc, the U.K.'s largest mall owner, hired Ian Durant as finance director to replace Aidan Smith, who is quitting at the end of this month after 10 years in the post.

Durant, a 49-year-old chartered accountant, will join Liberty in the middle of this month, London-based Liberty said in a statement today. Smith, 48, joined Liberty in 1986.

``It feels unusually sudden,'' said John Perry, and analyst at Deutsche Bank AG with a ``hold'' rating on the stock. ``There was nothing to suggest he was going.''

Liberty rose by a record 9.2 percent in London trading yesterday after the Independent newspaper reported the company may be bought by a larger rival to become the world's biggest shopping-center owner. Today, the shares fell 27 pence, or 2.6 percent, to 1,003 pence.

Durant was the chief financial officer of Sea Containers Ltd., the Bermuda-based rail and shipping company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2006, between December 2005 and May 2007. He was finance director of Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd, the largest city-center office landlord in Hong Kong, between 1993 and 1998.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Urban at robprag@bloomberg.net.

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