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Ferguson to separate UK operations, CEO Martin to step down

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(Reuters) – British plumbing products company Ferguson Plc <FERG.L> said on Tuesday it would separate its UK operations and that Chief Executive Officer John Martin will step down in November.

U.S. operations chief Kevin Murphy will replace Martin, the company said, adding that the separation of its Wolseley UK business will help Ferguson focus on North America.

“The separation will further simplify the group and will enable Wolseley UK to focus exclusively on customers in the UK market,” Ferguson said.

The move comes months after activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund acquired a 6% stake worth 736 million pounds, saying the company was trading at a discount to its U.S. peers.

Trian has urged Ferguson to sell its UK business, scrap its London stock market listing and switch to a U.S. listing, Sky News reported in July.

As Ferguson will be “wholly focused” on the North America markets, it is considering the “most appropriate listing structure” for the group, the company said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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