Green Battles to Retain ITV Chair As Investors Rebel

20 October 2003

Shareholders controlling nearly 40% of Carlton Communications' stock forced an emergency board meeting on Sunday evening to determine the future of the company's founder and chairman Michael Green.

Green, reputedly volatile and autocratic, is also slated for the chairman's role at ITV when Carlton's merger with Granada is completed. He is now reported by the Financial Times to be "fighting for his corporate life".

But Carlton's non-executive directors, summoned to Sunday night's meeting by the dissident shareholders, were united in their defence of their beleaguered chairman.

They made it clear they are not prepared to be bulldozed into dumping Green: " If [the shareholders] are comfortable with the non-executives they should let us get on with it," responded one non-exec, John McGrath.

However, few insiders believe this likely to be the end of the matter. The revolt, led by US fund management group Fidelity Investments, has been simmering for some time. Fidelity executive Anthony Bolton was reportedly trawling the corridors of industry and finance over three months ago for executives of a tenor more to Fidelity's liking [WAMN: 15-Jul-03].

Fidelity is not alone. Other dissidents include UBS Global Asset Management, Legal & General and Schroders which, acting in unison, have imposed a deadline of noon on October 21 for Green's excision.

"They have stated their desire to see Michael removed and for an independent chairman to be put in place to lead the company," said one of the plotters.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff