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British Executive Found Hanged

October 8, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ The chief executive officer of Britain’s largest sportswear retailer was found hanged just days before he was to release the company’s half-year results, officials said Tuesday.

A farmer found the body of Duncan Sharpe hanging from a tree on Monday near Bolton-by-Bowland in northern England, police said. There were no suspicious circumstances, police said.

Sharpe, 43, who took over as head of JJB Sports in February 2001, was to present JJB’s half-year results in London’s financial district on Thursday.

The results were expected to be disappointing, following a profit warning in July, which cost the company nearly one-third of its market value.

The group’s shares fell 10 percent minutes after JJB announced Sharpe’s ``unexpected and sudden death″ to the London Stock Exchange. The group refused to discuss how Sharpe’s body was found, but said its half-year results would be ``broadly in line″ with analysts’ expectations.

Dave Whelan, the former soccer player who founded the company and was the driving force behind its expansion over the past 30 years, will assume the top role ``until further notice,″ the company said.

In a statement, JJB offered its condolences to Sharpe’s family and praised his leadership.

JJB operates 438 stores in Britain. In April, JJB struck an exclusive six-year deal to market products of the Manchester United soccer team.

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