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Herald View

AS chief executive of Weir Group, rugby fan Keith Cochrane has handled a slippery ball with skill.

Taking on the leadership of Weir Group in November 2009, he ensured the company benefited from the mining and energy boom.

But even as conditions grew tougher, particularly in the shale gas sector, he has retained momentum through a strength in after-sales and moves into growing markets in Africa and Central America.

Latterly this has been achieved in the face of the sort of scepticism that usually greets a Scottish Six Nations campaign.

Weir has featured as one of the most shorted stocks in the FTSE-100. During the past year its share price has bounced around like a speculative kick for touch.

Yet as of last night its share price had regained the territory lost over the previous 12 months and it is now more than three times higher than when Mr Cochrane took over.

Weir, which began as a supplier to the shipping industry in the late 19th century, has changed much over the years, and will undoubtedly continue to evolve.

But even after often controversial changes, such as the sale of the Cathcart-based Pumps business in 2007, it has retained its character.

Its headquarters remain in Glasgow. And the board is led by some of Scottish business's notable heavyweights, such as chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin and former Cabinet minister Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. Next month former ScottishPower executive Charles Berry will become a director.

This is an example other Scottish companies should consider when facing the inevitable call to move their headquarters south.

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