Charles Allen, chairman of British TV group Granada, is reportedly under renewed pressure to quit by a group of influential shareholders.

Allen – who recently fell foul of investors over the lucrative ‘golden goodbye’ written into in his contract [WAMN: 24-Mar-03] – is currently overseeing the merger of Granada and Carlton Communications, uniting the two leading stakeholders in UK television network ITV.

But according to a report in the Sunday Times, some of the two firms’ major investors want him to step down once the deal is complete.

Such demands are said to be coming from a small but vocal cabal of shareholders, including Fidelity Asset Management, which owns shares both in Granada and Carlton. This band has allegedly held secret meetings with non-executive directors and board members of the two companies about the leadership of the merged firm.

The chief concern is Allen’s working relationship with Carlton’s mercurial chairman Michael Green. The duo plan to become, respectively, chief executive and chairman of the combined group, but have clashed in the past. Although investors accept the two bosses are important for the merger process to be completed, they fear the duo may be unable to work together afterward.

“Allen and Green are probably essential to the companies if they are going to merge,” one anonymous Granada shareholder commented. “We need the merger and we don't want to make it too difficult for them. What happens afterwards is different. There would definitely have to be succession planning.”

However, a Granada spokesman denied that Allen’s future was discussed at a recent meeting between investors and Sir George Russell (Granada) and Sir Brian Pitman (Carlton).

“The main thing was giving a definition of the roles of chairman and chief executive,” he declared. “Succession planning did not come into it and Charles Allen's contract was not raised at all.”

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