New National Grid chief looks for greater expansion into US

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The Independent Online

The next chief executive of National Grid, the owner of the UK's electricity and gas transmission networks, hinted yesterday further US expansion will be high on his list of priorities when he takes over at the end of the year.

Steve Holliday, currently the group's director of UK gas distribution, will become chief executive designate in April and take over fully from Roger Urwin on 1 January.

A board member of National Grid since 2001, Mr Holliday has been responsible for its UK transmission networks and in his current role oversaw the sale of four of its gas-distribution networks last year. He formerly worked for British Borneo Oil and Gas and, before that, Exxon.

Mr Holliday said he planned to build on what the group had achieved over the past five years and said there was more to do in the US market, which now accounts for 40-45 per cent of the group's operations.

"In the next phase of our evolution, we will be looking to do a lot more across the Atlantic," Mr Holliday said.

He stressed, however, that National Grid would continue to grow organically in the UK because of the sheer scale of the investment programme it is undertaking to modernise and expand the country's gas and electricity transmission networks.

Mr Holliday, 49, is also a non-executive director of Marks & Spencer. He was chosen after what the National Grid chairman, Sir John Parker, described as a "thorough process of evaluating both internal and external candidates".

His promotion is in keeping with the company's approach to management succession. Mr Urwin himself was a long-standing director when he took over as chief executive in 2001 from David Jones.

Mr Urwin, who turns 60 next month, said he did not plan to take on another chief executive's post but would be interested in chairing a FTSE 100 company.