Former shadow chancellor to chair Incepta

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The Independent Online

Francis Maude, a minister in the Thatcher government, is to be the new chairman of Incepta, the PR and marketing services company.

A barrister by training, Mr Maude went into the City after losing his seat at the 1992 election. He was re-elected in 1997 and intends to stand again at the next election, although he is no longer a front-bench spokesman for the Conservative Party.

Mr Maude, 50, already has a portfolio of directorships. He is the chairman of Prestbury Holdings, an AIM-listed financial services group; the deputy chairman of Benfield Group, the reinsurer; and the chairman of the Jubilee Investment Trust.

From the beginning of next month, the MP will replace David Wright, who is retiring from the part-time position at Incepta. Mr Maude will be paid £80,000 for working five days a month at Incepta, which is best known for its Citigate Dewe Rogerson business, one of the leading players in City PR.

He said he became acquainted with Anthony Carlisle of Citigate, an Incepta director and one of the best-known PR men in the City, during the second phase of the privatisation of BT in the early 1990s. Mr Maude was the minister in charge of the deal, while Mr Carlisle, whom he described as a "great man", handled its PR. He also got to know Jonathan Clare, another leading Citigate PR executive, when they worked together on HSBC's bid for Midland Bank.

Mr Maude said: "I liked the people [at Citigate]. They've got good people. It's an interesting business with a terrific track record."

From 1987 to 1992, Mr Maude was, successively, minister for corporate and consumer affairs at the DTI, minister of state at the Foreign Office, and financial secretary to the Treasury. He was a director of Salomon Brothers from 1992 to 1993, and a managing director of Morgan Stanley from 1993 to 1997.

A trading update from Incepta said it had seen a pick-up in business in the first seven weeks of this year, although it added that it was too early to call this a recovery. The company said that 2003 had been tough.