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Chip Hornsby

Chip Hornsby

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* Says Hornsby to step down with immediate effect * Successor, Ian Meakins, former CEO of Travelex * Shares up as much as 6 percent (Adds details) LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - British building supplies company Wolseley Plc (WOS.L) said on Tuesday that Chief Executive Chip Hornsby would step down with immediate effect, prompting a 6 percent surge in its shares.

The plumbers and builders merchant said Ian Meakins would succeed Hornsby on July 13.

Meakins has held positions as chief executive of Travelex Holdings Ltd and Alliance Unichem Plc until its merger with Boots.

"The management changes are a positive for Wolseley," Imran Akram at Collins Stewart said.

Andy Brown at Panmure Gordon agreed.

"After all the recent events at Wolseley, management change is not a major surprise," Brown said.

"An external replacement is likely to be well received as it should ensure that no stones are left unturned," he said, maintaining a "sell" recommendation on the stock.

Wolseley has cut thousands of jobs in response to a slump in Britain's property and construction sectors and in March raised over 1 billion pounds ($1.65 billion) from investors to rebuild its debt-laden balance sheet.

Shares in the company, which slid to their lowest point in more than a decade in March, have doubled in value since then to almost 1,200 pence each but are still a long way short of levels above 5,000 pence seen in early 2007.

The company returned to Britain's leading FTSE 100 index of blue-chip stocks earlier this month having been demoted to the FTSE 250 midcap index in March.

The stock was up 2.49 percent at 1,154 pence by 1019 GMT, making it the third biggest gainer on the FTSE 100.

.FTSE It earlier rose to a one-month high of 1,195 pence.

(Reporting by Paul Hoskins and Lorraine Turner; editing by Karen Foster) ($1=.6076 Pound)
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