Grabiner seeks stamp of approval

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The Independent Online

Mike Grabiner, the ex-Energis chief, and Allan Leighton, the former boss of Asda, have gone head-to-head to become the next chairman of Consignia.

Government insiders revealed that both men were interviewed last week for the £100,000-a-year job by a panel including Mark Gibson, a senior Department of Trade and Industry official, and Rosemary Thorne, chairman of Consignia's audit committee.

Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, will this week announce the winner for what will be one of the toughest jobs in Britain.

Mr Grabiner joined venture capital group Apax Partners last month after unexpectedly quitting Energis last year. Associates of the 52-year-old say he is keen to secure a high-profile public sector job. He has relevant experience. After graduating from Cambridge, he joined the Post Office, working mainly on telecoms. He later worked for BT.

Mr Leighton was appointed interim non-executive Consignia chairman in January. The 48-year-old is understood to have impressed the Government with his straight- talking style and was invited to apply for the job on a permanent basis. Since leaving Asda, he has secured 10 directorships, including BSkyB. If offered the job, he may be asked to quit some of his posts.

Whoever is selected for the two-day-a-week job will be faced with attempting to return the Royal Mail and the Post Office to profitability while allowing competition into the market.