DAVID CLARKE, THE RESTIVE CEO of Hanson's American operations, finally will have a company to call his own. Hanson announced on Feb. 22 that it will "demerge," splitting off 34 businesses to create U.S. Industries Inc., to be headed by Clarke. Clarke's family business was Hanson's first U.S. acquisition in 1974. Lately, though, he's been overshadowed by British CEO Derek Bonham in the race to inherit Hanson's top job from the soon-to-retire Lord James Hanson. The deal also cuts Hanson's debt by a third, to $2.5 billion, enabling it to return to the acquisition trail.

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