Mervyn Davies has become the third former minister from Gordon Brown’s government to land a top City job in a matter of days, following fellow peers Peter Mandelson and Paul Myners.
Lord Davies, a former business minister, is to be chairman of Chime Communications, the sports marketing and advertising group.
He replaces Lord Bell, who quit in June as part of a management buyout of public relations subsidiary Bell Pottinger. Bell earned a basic salary of £675,000 for his executive role but Davies is likely to earn far less as a non-executive.
Davies’ appointment came as Russian telecoms giant Megafon recruited ex-City minister Lord Myners as a non-executive director and news emerged that investment bank Lazard International has promoted former Business Secretary Lord Mandelson to chairman.
The new Chime chairman is a former banker who was chairman and chief executive of Standard Chartered before entering government. He returned to the City after the 2010 general election as a partner at private-equity firm Corsair Capital and senior non-executive director at drinks giant Diageo.
He has also overseen a Government review into the lack of women on boards. Chime’s eight-strong board has only one female director.
Davies will want to soothe Chime investors, notably Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP, which owns 21% and voted against Bell Pottinger’s sale.
Chime said trading since July has been better than the first half of the year, when problems at Bell Pottinger hit the parent company.
The PR agency suffered after a big US government contract came to an end and its boasts about the use of the “dark arts” to gain lobbying access in Whitehall were exposed in the Evening Standard’s sister newspaper The Independent.
Meanwhile, one of Myners’ key tasks at Megafon will be to reassure the City ahead of next week’s London float, which could value the business at over £8 billion. There is controversy because oligarch Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second-biggest shareholder, controls more than 50% of Megafon.
RLM Finsbury, the PR agency which acts for Usmanov, had to admit last week that it deleted unfavourable information about his past from his Wikipedia entry. Myners used to chair Marks & Spencer and Guardian Media Group.