With Michael Green unseated as chairman designate of the soon-to-be-merged ITV plc [WAMN: 23-Oct-03], headhunters acting for Carlton Communications and Granada Media have approached a candidate from an unexpected quarter - Britain's Competition Commission.

The search firm - believed to be New York-headquartered Spencer Stuart - has trod where angels might hesitate, given that their target is the Commission's soon-to-retire deputy chairman Denise Kingsmill.

An appointment of Kingsmill, a left-leaning lawyer who formerly specialized in employment and industrial relations, would fuel controversy - not least because of the Commission's surprising leniency toward Granada and Carlton in permitting their merger without divestment of at least one of their respective TV sales houses. This decision, to which Kingsmill must have been party, amazed and angered many in media and advertising circles.

Sir Brian Pitman, former chair of Lloyds TSB bank, will serve as interim ITV chairman pending a permanent appointment. Meantime, other candidates for the hotseat include Fidelity Investment's nominee, John Nelson, the outgoing European chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston; and the recently retired ceo of Vodafone Sir Christopher Gent.

Fidelity boss Anthony Bolton, who masterminded Michael Green's ousting, has made it clear along with other investors that they seek a tough, independent non-executive chairman who will keep a tight rein on Granada chairman Charles Allen, poised to become ITV chief executive.

Data sourced from: Independent.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff