LONDON: After campaigning long and loud for the ousting of former ITV chief executive Charles Allen, investors in Britain's largest commercial TV company are now nervously a-twitch at the firm's failure thus far to appoint a high-calibre successor.
The latest round of jitters over the absence of a tried and trusted hand on the helm was exacerbated by ITV's own investment bank and stockbroker UBS - its listening post in the badlands of Wall Street and London EC2.
ITV directors, like Julius Caesar, might justifiably have gasped Et tu, Brute? when on Monday they were knifed in the back by a trusted ally. That the Ides of March are still a full five months distant did not prevent UBS from downgrading its target price for ITV shares, citing the forecast downturn in the UK advertising market.
Keened one investor: "I don't think the [chief executive] job is seen as a desperately attractive job. This is seen as a company facing serious challenges." Confided another to the MediaGuardian: "I am increasingly worried as time passes,"
The moneymen are also concerned at the slow progress made by headhunter Zygos in filling the vacant hotseat. The firm is not expected to be ready for candiate interviews for the next two to three weeks at least.
Stephen Carter, former ceo at UK media regulator Ofcom, is still the bookies' favourite among a list of runners said to be increasingly reluctant to leave the starting gate.
However, his appointment could trigger opposition from ITV's rivals who claim that Carter in his former role was privy to sensitive commercial information concerning their companies [WARC News: 04-Aug-06].
Meantime, an ITV spokesman insists everything is going according to plan. "The board is determined to appoint the right person within a reasonable timeframe," he said.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff