Former Tory MP is new chairman of ITV

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The Independent Online

Former Conservative MP Archie Norman was today named as the new chairman of ITV following the broadcaster's protracted search to replace Michael Grade.

Mr Norman - who used to head up supermarket chain Asda - will take up the role in January, when Mr Grade will bow out.

Mr Grade said he was "delighted" to pass the position on to his successor.

"He inherits a company that is more popular and efficient than it has been for many years and I know he will build on that legacy," he said.



Mr Norman described the position as "an irresistible challenge" and said the broadcaster, which has faced a precipitous advertising slump in the recession, was "facing an imperative for change".

"There are few opportunities that would have tempted me back into the public company arena, but ITV is definitely one of them," he said.

"Thanks to Michael Grade's remarkable work the company has come through the worst advertising recession for decades and now has a strong platform to embrace that challenge."

ITV had been mired in a leadership crisis as it struggled to replace Mr Grade, who holds a dual executive chairman role.

The high profile hunt began with the aim to appoint a chief executive, but was changed after talks with former BSkyB boss Tony Ball collapsed.

Sir James Crosby, who led the search for the firm, announced that he would resign from the board as soon as his successor was appointed.

Chief operating officer John Cresswell has already agreed to become ITV's interim chief executive in January, but will leave the firm when a permanent chief executive is appointed.



Mr Norman was a member of a three-strong team that established and built Kingfisher in the 1980s to become Britain's leading general merchandise retailer.

In 1991 he moved to Asda to lead a turnaround as chief executive. Over the following eight years the business was turned into the second largest supermarket group before being sold to Wal-Mart.

Mr Norman also acquired Energis, Britain's third largest telecoms business, on behalf of creditor banks and over three years rebuilt the business before agreeing a sale to Cable and Wireless.

Mr Norman said people "should not read anything into" his methods at previous firms.

"ITV is a very different business from the ones I have worked in in the past and I absolutely do not think that a formulaic approach is going to work," he said.

He said his time with the Conservatives meant he "knew a lot of people in public life" across the party divide, but rejected suggestions that his former political affiliations might cause concern.

"I am not expecting any favours from any political party and I certainly don't see any conflict at all," he said.

Mr Norman declined to say whether a new headhunter would be assigned to continue the quest for a chief executive.

But he said: "We will start afresh a proper chief executive search. I don't expect to have any news on that for quite some weeks."

He listed the best programmes on ITV as X Factor, car crash drama Collision and football.

Mr Norman's remuneration will be made up of a combination of fees and shares. He will be paid £300,000 a year, as well as £636,000-worth of shares at today's value. He will receive 400,000 of the shares each year for the next three years.

Earlier this month ITV said group revenues were £1.3 billion in the nine months to September 30, against £1.47 billion a year earlier. The firm is aiming for £155 million of cost savings in 2009.

The broadcaster showed an increased optimism and said there were signs of stabilisation in the UK television advertising market.

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