UK - The £400m Speciality Chemicals Pension Fund of British paints major Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) has rehired JP Morgan Chase as its custodian, replacing the Bank of New York (BoNY).

IPE understands the fund of ICI - maker of Dulux and Glidden paints - has decided to consolidate its custodians and will therefore be serviced in the future by JP Morgan.

A spokeswoman for JP Morgan Chase declined to comment, though pointed out the company is also custodian of the main £7bn ICI pension fund.

In 2005, the Bank of New York, which recently merged with Mellon Financial, replaced JP Morgan Chase as custodian of the ICI Speciality Chemicals Pension Fund - set up following its purchase in 1997 of a speciality chemical division from Unilever.

News comes as ICI, itself in merger talks, confirms it has rejected a new cash offer of 650p a share (the equivalent of £7.7bn) from Dutch rival Akzo Nobel as too low.

ICI said: "Discussions are continuing, however, ICI has not granted Akzo access to due diligence information."

Arnhem-based Akzo Noble raised its offer after German chemicals supplier Henkel agreed to buy after takeover the most of ICI's US-based National Starch Unit.

Earlier this month, after Akzo Nobel's first, £7.2bn, bid failed, the main ICI pension fund warned it expects any ICI bidders to engage in up-front talks with the scheme.

Akzo Nobel today said it was too early to comment whether it had sought contact with the pension fund's trustees yet.

"We haven't even seen the due diligence information yet, it was a conditional, informal bid," a spokesman said.

He added: "With every company that we take over, big or small, we will handle pensions responsibilities in the interest of the employees."