Shares in Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) hit a six-month high yesterday on the appointment of Alistair Darby as the company’s new chief executive. On the back of Darby’s move as chief operating officer at Marston’s, the All Bar One operator’s shares climbed 10.2p or 3.7% to 288.7p. Shares in Marston’s, which will not look to appoint a new COO, fell slightly, down by 1.1p to 114.4p. Matthew Webb, analyst at JP Morgan Cazenove, said although Darby’s appointment doesn’t resolve all of M&B’s problems, it is an “important and necessary step towards 'normalising’ the company”. Jeffrey Harwood at Oriel Securities said Darby would be able to build on the steps taken by Ivell to modernise the group, upgrading his recommendation on M&B’s from ‘Hold’ to ‘Buy’. He said: “There is good scope for the new chief executive to make a number of changes to make the company more attractive to shareholders, including a return to the dividend list.” Darby’s remuneration package has not been disclosed but it is expected to be higher than the c £416k he received at Marston’s last year.