Turmoil at ITV as Clasper rules himself out

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The Independent Online

Mike Clasper, the former chief executive of BAA, surprised the City by ruling himself out of the race to become the boss of ITV yesterday, claiming he believed he would contribute "most effectively" to the company in his current role as a non-executive director.

Mr Clasper had become the bookie's favourite to take over the top job from Charles Allen, who was forced to resign his post in August, and finally stood down last Friday. However, after speculation reached fever pitch this week that Mr Clasper was on the verge of being appointed, ITV decided to clarify the situation.

Mr Clasper said: "The speculation that I have thrown my hat into the ring for the CEO role is incorrect. I would have preferred to avoid comment on the issue, but, in the light of the intensity of recent speculation, I wish to set the record straight. I believe that I can contribute most effectively to the continuing success of ITV in my current role as a non-executive director. I will be continuing to support Sir Peter Burt and my board colleagues in the search process for a suitable chief executive, and that process is proceeding as planned."

ITV is still believed to be at a relatively early stage in its search for a chief executive. Other contenders are believed to include Stephen Till, the chairman and chief executive of the film group United International Pictures, and Roger Parry, the chairman of Johnston Press.

Mr Clasper became a favourite, having recently stood down from his role as CEO of another FTSE 100 company, BAA, after its takeover by Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure group. Previously, he worked at Procter & Gamble, one of ITV's biggest advertising clients, heading the company's global care division, encompassing brands such as Fairy Liquid and Flash.

Meanwhile, speculation mounted yesterday that ITV's chairman Sir Peter Burt may be the next high-profile departure from the company, amid rumours of a split on the ITV board over the broadcaster's future. Sir Peter is reputed to be keen to step down from the position as soon as a new chief executive has been found.

Shares in ITV rose 0.5 per cent to 102.5p yesterday, giving the company a market value of £4.01bn. Its shares have fallen almost 9 per cent since the start of the year, making them one of the worst performers in the FTSE 100.