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Royal Mail's Keith Williams to become chairman

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(Reuters) – Royal Mail Plc said Deputy Chairman Keith Williams will replace Les Owen as chairman, becoming the third person to hold the role in the past year.

Williams, former chief executive officer and chairman of British Airways, takes over as the 500-year-old post and parcels company struggles with weaker results, a shareholder revolt over pay packages and a slew of management changes.

The company said Owen, who took over from Peter Long in September, will retire.

Long stepped down to focus on his role as executive chairman at British estate agent Countrywide Plc after he faced shareholder pressure at Royal Mail for taking on too many jobs.

Two months ago, Royal Mail was forced to lower its full-year profit forecast amid larger-than-expected decline in letter volumes.

Williams, who will take over in May, climbed his way to the top of International Consolidated Airline Group’s British Airways over 18 years, becoming its CEO and chairman.

During his tenure at the helm of British Airways, parent ICAG’s shares nearly doubled.

Williams, who was appointed to the Royal Mail board in January last year, will step down as non-executive director of British insurer Aviva Plc.

Shares of Royal Mail, which was dropped from London’s blue-chip index at the end of last year, were little changed in morning trading at 250.7 pence. They have more than halved in the last one year.

(Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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