ITV Top Job Candidate 'Too Powerful' to Work With CEO

23 December 2003

Sir Christopher Gent, founder and former chief executive of the globe's largest mobile phone operator Vodafone, has been excised from the candidate shortlist for chairman of the newly merged ITV plc.

According to insiders, he is judged "too powerful" to co-exist with former Granada boss Charles Allen, cosily poised to take the ceo's hotseat at the TV titan. It is feared within the ITV hothouse that Gent, unaccustomed to a figurehead role, would have a "tense relationship" with Allen, himself no shrinking violet.

Favourite for the job is former investment banker John Nelson. But paradoxically, the moneymen appear to be less than eager to shoehorn one of their own into the ITV chair.

The Daily Telegraph quotes another banker: "Gent has been told he is not being considered, which is slightly disturbing. He appears to have been kept off the shortlist because he would be too strong. I'm not sure whether shareholders are going to like that."

Confided another substantial investor in ITV: "We'll need reassurance that they are not going to appoint a patsy."

In some quarters of the investment jungle there is acute dissatisfaction with the emollient easing of Allen into the ceo's role. A faction among the money-manipulators would prefer to see a hard man in the chair to monitor Allen and ensure he toes the City's preferred line.

Those who know Gent well, say he will be seriously disappointed by his exclusion from the shortlist. "This is the post he would really like," confided one of his friends.

"We would hope to make a decision in January," said an unnamed ITV director.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff