ITV's seemingly cavalier handout of £27 million in shareholders' cash to departed directors of Carlton Communications was legal -- and justified -- the broadcaster's acting-chairman told investor groups Wednesday.

ITV's chair, seemingly customized to fit the posteriors of former bankers, is currently occupied on an interim basis by Sir Brian Pitman, who will vacate in favour of another banking knight, Sir Peter Burt on March 15.

As WAMN went to press, it was not known whether Pitman succeeded in propitiating ITV's institutional shareholders who are currently incandescent at the profligacy with which the golden payoffs were made to those who fell by the wayside in the merger between Carlton Communications and Granada.

The seriously rich casualties are all from the Carlton side of the union, the most senior being former chairman Michael Green whose consolation prize is £15 million ($27.12m; €22.12m). Other beneficiaries are finance director Paul Murray (£7 million) and company David Abdoo (£5m).

At yesterday's meeting Pitman rejected the moneymen's calls for the resignation of Etienne de Villiers and Sir John McGrath, non-executive directors of ITV, for their role in approving the payoffs.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff