Nelson could be shareholders' choice as new chairman

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The Independent Online

When veteran corporate financier, John Nelson, announced he was taking early retirement from his role as chairman of the European arm of investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston last year, he said he wanted to ring the changes by filling his time with a portfolio of business projects.

Much in demand, the 56-year-old former Lazard Brothers vice chairman, whose 30-year career includes advising on the first government privatisation and launching Granada's hostile bid for Forte, accepted offers to be deputy chairman of DIY chain Kingfisher and to sit on the board of BT.

Now Fidelity, a major shareholder in both ITV companies, is putting Mr Nelson forward as a possible candidate to replace Michael Green as chairman in the enlarged company. The move would see the financier step firmly back into the limelight in the Square Mile at the helm of one of the UK's most high-profile companies.

Mr Nelson's dealmaking skills have won him a formidable reputation, but it could be his track record in investment banking which may put off some directors on the Carlton side of the table. Mr Nelson has a close relationship with Granada and the Forte deal is just one of many significant strategic moves that he advised the company on.

Among the non-executives of Granada who were meeting last night to consider their response to investors' demands for a new independent non-executive chairman will be James Crosby, chief executive of banking giant HBOS.

Another board member is David Chance, former deputy managing director of BSkyB.

Granada's deputy chairman, Sir George Russell, former chairman of ITN and deputy chairman of Channel 4, was also weighing up the choice for the future make-up of the board.