LONDON -- Brendan O’Neill resigned as CEO of ICI plc and was succeeded by ICI Paints Chairman and Chief Executive John McAdam, effective immediately, the company announced.

The moves follow a recent decline in the company’s stock price, precipitated by a company statement indicating first-quarter profits would fall short of expectations. ICI Chairman Lord Trotman said O’Neill, who joined ICI in 1998, agreed to step down “in the best interests of the company.”

McAdam has held management positions with Birds Eye Foods, Unilever, Quest International, and Unichema International, and in 1997 became chairman and CEO of Quest following ICI’s acquisition of Unilever’s specialty-chemicals businesses. He was named chairman and CEO of ICI Paints in 1998.

McAdam said he welcomed the opportunity to lead ICI, which he described as “a great company, with strong market position and considerable potential.” He said his first priority is to complete a cost-reduction review of the entire ICI Group that was initiated on March 25.

News reports in the U.K. suggested that O’Neill’s resignation was the result of weak results for ICI’s fragrances and flavorings business, which has endured production problems.