Granada boss may lose job in coup

GRANADA boss Charles Allen could yet become a victim of last week’s shareholder coup which forced Carlton boss Michael Green to relinquish ambitions of running a single ITV, it was reported yesterday.

Anthony Bolton, the City fund manager credited with leading the investor rebellion over plans for Mr Green to run the new group, is reported to want a new chairman to be allowed to have a “clean brush”.

Such an arrangement could call into question Mr Allen’s future at the new ITV plc to be created out of the merger of Granada and Carlton.

Carlton’s Michael Green was to have become chairman, with Mr Allen as chief executive, but last week he bowed to pressure from City institutions led by Mr Bolton’s employer Fidelity Investments who were calling for an independent non-executive chairman to be brought in from outside.

In an interview Mr Bolton indicated that whoever is appointed to take the place relinquished by Mr Green should be free to decide who is in charge.

He told the paper: “We need a new chairman who can come in, have a clean-brush approach to the structure and strategy of the company going forward. And he must have no baggage from the past.”

When asked whether that meant having a free hand to decide who should be chief executive, Mr Bolton reportedly said: “You are describing exactly the kind of chairman we want.”

As Fidelity is the largest shareholder of both Granada and Carlton, Mr Bolton is a key player in discussions over the future of ITV.

Dubbed the “quiet assassin” in the City, Mr Bolton is not known to court the limelight, but has not hesitated to reject takeover offers for companies in which Fidelity invests if he thinks they are too mean.

In a separate interview with the Sunday Telegraph Mr Bolton reportedly indicated that Mr Allen’s survival last week was essentially a matter of chance.

“If Charles Allen had been chairman and Michael Green would have been chief executive, Allen would have had to go,” he is quoted as saying.

Fidelity is now thought to want former investment banker John Nelson as chairman.

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