Carlton shareholder voices concern over ousting of chairman

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The Independent Online

Charles Allen and Michael Green met face-to-face yesterday for the first time since Mr Green was dramatically ousted as the chairman-designate of ITV plc.

It is understood that the meeting was "cordial" and tackled some of the practical issues outstanding over the merger of Granada, chaired by Mr Allen, and Mr Green's Carlton. If Mr Green had not been made to stand down on Tuesday from the chairmanship of the future company, discussions would also have turned to strategic and long term issues.

But that was no longer appropriate given that Mr Green will play no part in the merged company. Matters such as combining the two different incentive schemes were discussed.

Mr Green is often portrayed as a volatile and excitable character but sources from both sides stressed that the meeting contained no drama.

One insider said: "Michael did not go there armed with a revolver. He was keen to draw a line under what happened and make it clear to Charles that he was available to help, if needed."

Separately, one of Carlton's shareholders voiced concern over the ousting of Mr Green. While many of the company's investors also hold shares in Granada, Phoenix Asset Management only owns Carlton shares. After Mr Green's ousting, there is now no Carlton executive on the ITV plc board.

Gary Channon, managing director of Phoenix, which owns just under 2 per cent in Carlton, said it was an "odd time" for the coup, before the two companies had agreed final regulatory terms and merger documents issued. "What has happened is not in the interests of pure Carlton shareholders. Why has our representation been taken out of the game?"

Mr Channon said the issue of Mr Green's position could have been addressed once ITV plc was created. He said there was now "more of a risk" that Granada would seek to alter the merger terms, in its favour. The deal appeared now more of a takeover than merger, he said. "Some of the shareholders behind this [ousting] had a conflict of interest, as they were also Granada shareholders."

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