City lines up Norris to be new Jarvis chairman

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Paris Moayedi, the chairman of Jarvis, is preparing to step down after nine years at the helm of the company which is at the centre of investigations into the Potters Bar rail crash.

Jarvis's senior non-executive director and the Conservative party candidate for Mayor of London, Steven Norris, has been approached by at least one institutional shareholder as a replacement.

Mr Moayedi is expected to resign his position before the end of the year, amid controversy about a number of Jarvis projects. Shareholders are becoming uneasy at the flow of bad news, which has seen Jarvis's share price fall 26 per cent in the last month. A Jarvis spokesman said that "no decision had been taken" on Mr Moayedi's future. But a senior source with links to the company said an imminent departure was "certain".

Mr Norris could not be reached for comment but he is understood to be seriously considering the proposal. The job offer will force the former Tory transport minister to make a tough choice between his careers in business and politics. If he was to become chairman of Jarvis he would almost certainly have to resign as a London mayoral candidate. Jarvis is a member of the Tubelines consortium which runs the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly London Underground lines. Chairing Jarvis would be seen as a conflict of interest.

While Mayor Ken Livingstone is clear favourite to win the elections in June, Mr Norris has begun campaigning with a small team.

However, Mr Norris, who set up a successful car dealership before he entered politics, has shown signs of wanting to get more involved in business. If he decided to take the Jarvis promotion then he would be supported by some of the company's main shareholders. Fidelity, Zurich, Prudential, ISIS and Jupiter hold the biggest stakes in the company.

A leading investor said: "Norris has the right experience and has had a positive influence on the company in these trying times." Another said: "Changes have to be made and we are pressing." A third investor said: "I don't see [Mr Moayedi] as a long-term appointment."

Mr Moayedi moved from chief executive to chairman after the death of former chairman Duncan McGowan in May. The promotion went against established corporate governance practice. With a recent spate of Jarvis board appointments - including former Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Elizabeth Filkin as non-executive director - shareholders believe it is now time for Mr Moayedi to step down.