Fresh & Easy Chief Will Not Lead Tesco

EL SEGUNDO -- The chief executive of Tesco's chain of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, Tim Mason, ruled himself out as a potential successor to Tesco's chief executive, Terry Leahy, ending years of speculation, the Financial Times reported.

Mason revealed the information during a visit to recently opened Fresh & Easy stores, according to the report, which cited him as stating the top job would go to a younger candidate.

While Mason, a former marketing executive, had been rumored to succeed Leahy for some time, the speculations intensified when Leahy picked Mason to head Tesco's U.S. arm, the report stated.

Mason, 50, told the Financial Times he was too old to succeed Terry, 51, who plans to stay at the top spot for five years or more. He declined to comment on who might succeed Leahy, but noted there is a deep pool of internal talent.

The company's Phil Clarke, international director, and Richard Brasher, trading director, both want the top job, the FT reported, citing Tesco watchers. However, those candidates, at 47 and 45, respectively, may be passed due to younger executives in the company's ranks, the report stated. The company is likely to appoint a leader who could remain at the helm through a decade before reaching the age of 60, the FT reported.

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