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Carlton picks Asda man, 34, as chief

CARLTON Communications, the television company led by Michael Green, yesterday appointed a 34-year-old marketing specialist as its new chief executive.

Steven Cain, who is currently marketing director at Asda, will join Carlton in the new year. He will almost certainly be the youngest chief executive of a FTSE 100 company. He replaces June de Moller, Carlton's managing director, who announced her decision to retire in September.

The appointment surprised analysts who said Mr Cain has no experience of the media industry. But Carlton said the retail sector had groomed some of Britain's best managers and it was keen to capitalise on that expertise. "We wanted someone who is on the way up who can make their mark at Carlton," the company said. Mr Green, Carlton's chairman, said: "Steven was the outstanding candidate in a strong field."

The decision to create the new post of chief executive is being seen as a sign of Carlton beefing up its senior management structure to reflect its heavy investment in digital television through ONdigital, its pay- television joint venture with Granada. Mr Green is not expected to scale back his involvement in the company.

Mr Cain, who is married with three children, has a career record remarkably similar to Archie Norman, Asda's chairman. He graduated from Imperial College before joining Bain & Co the management consultants.

In 1989 he joined Kingfisher, the Woolworths and B&Q retailer, looking after group development and strategy. He left to join Asda in 1992 as marketing controller before joining the board 12 months ago.

Paul Smiddy, of Credit Lyonnais Lain said: "I wouldn't have thought that being marketing director of a domestic food retailer with a single business is the best preparation for running a multi-faceted, international operation."