UK - Whitbread's Geoff Mellor is to take over from David Morgan as chief executive of Coal Pension Trustees, the executive arm of the UK's more than £25bn (€36.9bn) coal industry funds.

The appointment ends a search which began in December last year when Morgan announced his departure. CPT used search and selection firm GTF to find a replacement for Morgan, who's been in the job since 1998.

"Geoff Mellor is to join Coal Pension Trustees Services (CPT) on May 1 2007 as Chief Executive Officer Designate," a statement said, adding he would take over from Morgan in the summer of 2007. Morgan was originally set to retire in 2008.

Mellor will be taking over funds including the £11.9bn British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme and the £13bn Mineworkers' Pension Scheme as well as the smaller Industry Wide Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme (£194m) and Industry Wide Mineworkers' Pension Scheme (£227m).

Mellor, who is an actuary, is currently pensions director at hospitality company Whitbread. He'll head a staff of 30.

"David Morgan has led the company ably for the past eight years and we wish him well in the future," said CPT chairman Philip Read.

"Geoff faces the challenges of managing two complex extremely large and very mature schemes and two large but less mature industry wide schemes. His experience and qualification suit him ideally for the job and we are looking forward to his arrival."

Mellor added: "The scale of these schemes and the nature of their relationship with government make this appointment very different from the role I have filled before.  It's the next challenge in my career and I look forward to working with very competent and well governed trustees, talented colleagues and their highly regarded advisers."

The British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme provides pensions to 65,000 former managerial and clerical staff of British Coal, while the Mineworkers fund has 192,000 pensioners.