Duncan Lewis talks to BT about senior job

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The Independent Online
Duncan Lewis, who quit as head of Granada's media division in December after a spectacular bust-up with Charles Allen, its chief executive, may be set for a return to the telecommunications industry with his old employer British Telecom.

The 45-year old Mr Lewis is understood to have held informal discussions with the BT chairman Sir Iain Vallance about taking up a senior post within the company as it works towards the pounds 35bn merger with MCI of the US.

Mr Lewis has worked for both Mercury and BT before - indeed it was Sir Iain who brought him into the group. The two men are said to have had a good working relationship.

Friends say that Mr Lewis is weighing up three options - a return to BT, a job running an FTSE 100 company or launching a start-up venture on his own. But a return to BT is top of the agenda.

Industry observers say that a power vacuum may be developing at the top of Concert - the international telecoms company being formed out of BT's takeover of MCI, the US's biggest long-distance telephone operator.

Dr Alan Rudge is retiring at the end of the year as deputy chief executive of BT, which only had four executives on its board before the merger with MCI. There is also speculation about how long the chairman of MCI, Bert Roberts, will remain on the board of the merged company given the enormous stock options that he is in line for. The deal will net him $50m-$60m according to some estimates.

However, Mr Lewis has a reputation for falling out with his bosses. In 1995 he quit as chief executive of Mercury after just nine months in the job. His departure from Granada came within a year of his appointment.

Mr Lewis's departure from his pounds 280,000 job at Granada led to speculation that he would get the top job at Cable & Wireless Communications, the new company formed out of a pounds 5bn merger of Mercury and three cable operators.

But the post went to another Granada executive, Graham Wallace, head of the group's restaurants interests.