Battle ahead for Morton's services

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The Independent Online
Leading British companies will be scrambling for the services of Sir Alastair Morton when he and Lady Morton return from their extended holiday in South America and the Pacific Islands early next year, writes Richard Halstead.

Sir Alastair, who steps down from the Eurotunnel board at the end of this month, has stated he does not want to go back to work immediately, but it is widely believed that, at 58, he still has the time and inclination to seek further challenges in Britain's boardrooms.

His bitter struggle with Eurotunnel's creditors over the rescue package for the company won him few friends in banking circles, but he is seen as a valuable asset to companies that need a tough negotiator.

One headhunter believes he will make an ideal successor to Richard Giordano when the latter retires from British Gas. Another thinks his abilities would be better suited to a company such as Cable & Wireless, whose chairman Dr Brian Smith, 67, was appointed last November as a stop-gap in the wake of the sudden departures of chairman Lord Young and chief executive James Ross.

One of the more popular rumours is that Sir Alastair will join the board of P&O, which last week announced a merger of its cross-channel ferries operation with that of Stena Sealink to compete more effectively with Eurotunnel. P&O denied that there had been any contact. He has also been linked with London & Continental, which owns the Eurostar passenger rail service and will build the fast rail link connecting the Channel tunnel with London.