Bridgeman new OFT boss

A man who has spent most of his life with Alcan sees need for more cohesion, writes Roger Trapp

John Bridgeman was confirmed yesterday as the new director general of the Office of Fair Trading, a job Sir Bryan Carsberg announced last December that he was leaving. Many believe he went because he felt hamstrung by politicians.

Mr Bridgeman is the man picked by Michael Heseltine, the Deputy Prime Minister, whose policy on competition is to let the markets sort things out for themselves. Speculation that this prompted Sir Bryan's decision was strengthened when he recently criticised developments in the area.

Mr Bridgeman, managing director of British Alcan Aluminium until he takes up his post at the Office of Fair Trading on 1 October, acknowledged that the competition policy role had attracted most attention. But there was a need for "more cohesion in respect of consumer protection issues".

The announcement, which had been expected for some time, brings to an end one of the most tortuous government appointment processes ever.

The International headhunters, Saxton Bampfylde, began the search at the turn of the year, with the intention of getting somebody in place by the time Sir Bryan left to become secretary-general of the International Accounting Standards Committee in May. In fact, former deputy director general Jeffrey Preston has been carrying out the role.

With a brief to find someone who combined an intellectual understanding of the issues involved with practical experience of industry, Saxton Bampfylde soon settled on Mr Bridgeman - on the strength of recommendations from business people in Britain and elsewhere.

But the announcement has been delayed largely because Mr Bridgeman has been preoccupied with spinning off the "downstream" operations of his company into a separate operation that will employ about 4,500 people and have a turnover of about pounds 450m. The end of next month was the earliest he could leave, he said.

Apart from a brief spell at the then National Coal Board, Mr Bridgeman, 50, has spent his career at the Canadian-based Alcan. However, as he pointed out to Mr Heseltine, he has performed so many different roles with the diversified Montreal-based company that he regards himself as having experience of several different industries.

His work in helping form Alcan's strategy has been singled out by some observers, while others cite his membership of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission since 1990.

In the months since he emerged as front-runner for the post, Mr Bridgeman has been praised as a "thinking man's businessman", with an ability to see the big picture. Ian Lang, who replaced Mr Heseltine at the Board of Trade in the recent ministerial reshuffle, welcomed his appointment.

Recent rises in public sector salaries mean that Mr Bridgeman could be paid significantly more than Sir Bryan's reputed pounds 110,000. But he would only say that he would earn more than President Clinton's $200,000 and a lot less than his salary at the UK subsidiary of Alcan. A legacy from his recently deceased mother would help close the gap, he said.

A companion of the Institute of Management, Mr Bridgeman has also been visiting professor of management at Keele University since 1992.

It has been suggested his long association with the Territorial Army might prepare him for the flak he can expect at the OFT. But he rejects the idea he might come under fire. He hoped that, by the end of his term, those who were wary of having a businessman in the role would have been won over.

Comment, above

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on