The Business On: Sir Michael Lyons, Interim chairman, Mouchel

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The Independent Online

His name's familiar but not as a businessman

Sir Michael is best known as the former chairman of the BBC Trust. Before that he was very much a public sector man, running three local authorities in the Midlands and heading reviews for the Labour government.

What's he doing now?

He's been drafted in to mind the ship at Mouchel, which maintains roads and provides backroom services for local councils.

What does he know about road repairs?

People made similar remarks about Sir Michael's experience of broadcasting when he took over at the BBC in 2007. In fairness, Mouchel does lots of work for local councils, which is probably why he joined the board 10 years ago. But his main hands-on business experience was when he worked part-time on a market stall while studying in London.

Why have they appointed him, then?

Er, he was available. His predecessor, David Sugden, got the job last Thursday but the decision went down like a sack of tarmac with Mouchel's banks, who pparently didn't rate Mr Sugden's chairmanship of Findel, the home shopping group.

Mouchel can't be in the best of health

Too right. As cash-strapped councils and government agencies rein in spending, the company is heading for a breach of its banking covenants and is trying to refinance its £170m of bank facilities.

So he'll be busy?

For as long as it takes him to find a permanent chairman, yes. Sir Michael left the BBC after one four-year term complaining that the job was "crowding out" his other activities. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.