Rank Group’s chief executive Mike Smith, who retires from the board next month, will be free within days of his departure to lead or advise on a break-up of the group he has headed for nearly seven years. His contract has omitted to include a non-compete clause. He will not be allowed to use confidential information but he has unrivalled knowledge of the business which a potential buyer would find useful. Speculation has been rife and Blackstone and BC Partners are thought to have expressed interest. Other buy-out group believed to be keeping close tabs. Financial Times 18/02/06 page 17