An unnamed executive search organisation hired by the Royal Mail to find a new (board level) marketing director has been telling candidates that the state-owned giant is set to be privatised during the Blair administration's next term – assuming always that it survives the general election expected in May 2005.

Addressing the handful of Britons who still believe statements issued by the government, the Department of Trade and Industry is denying any such plan, insisting that the "privatization of Royal Mail is not on the government agenda."

However, Monday's Financial Times reports that a private sector executive approached for the post of RM marketing director was categorically told that privatization is on the government agenda.

The main appeal of the job, the candidate was told, is the opportunity to make a cash killing following a sell-off. "It was all about the share options," he said. "They made clear there was a chance to become a millionaire in the next three or four years. The job is to prepare the company for a possible sale."

Given the UK's ongoing global trading imbalance and the still-accumulating cost of its Iraq adventuring, the idea of a major privatisation is likely to be very appealing to the Blair administration.

And the Royal Mail is an attractive proposition, back in the black once again thanks to a management restructuring and the loss of 30,000 jobs. One of those jobs was that of Paul Rich, former marketing director, who has been shunted sideways and removed from the board.

The Royal Mail confirms it is looking for a successor to Rich, while remaining zip-lipped over the identity of its indiscreet head-hunter.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff