ITV Investors Twitchy at Grade's Boardroom Power

30 November 2006

LONDON: No pleasing investors in ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster. No sooner are they gifted with the appointment of new executive chairman Michael Grade - a Gulliver among the Lilliputians of British TV - than the moneymen are clamouring for a counterweight to their new heavyweight.

Four of ITV's top twenty institutional investors whispered into the ear of the Financial Times that they now seek to add one or more muscular non-executive representatives onto ITV's board.

Purportedly welcoming Grade's appointment, one top shareholder grudgingly muttered: "If [that] is what it takes [to drag ITV out of the mire], so be it. But we will look for checks and balances and good independent directors."

ITV's current senior non-executive director, deputy-chairman Sir George Russell, whose powers of persuasion are said to have been instrumental in wooing Grade away from the BBC, is expected to remain on the board.

But some investors continue to agitate for additional independent appointments to "provide the questioning" on behalf of shareholders.

However, as one anonymous investor remarked, referring presumably to BSkyB's recent 17.9% ITV share snatch: "At least we now have a fox to deal with the chicken!"

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