His selection was influenced heavily by Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, who vetoed the appointment of another lawyer to the sensitive post.
Mr Odgers, aged 58, an industrialist with wide experience of the public and private sectors, will be the first non-lawyer to chair the MMC. He was headhunted by Tyack Accord from a list of more than 100 candidates.
Mr Heseltine is understood to have been keen to recruit a businessman with a good grasp of commerce. One source said: 'He was after someone who knows industry well and can deliver, not a dry legal eagle.'
During Sir Sydney's five-year tenure, the MMC undertook several high-profile investigations. It cleared the petrol companies and car retailers of anti-competitive practices, but the brewing industry is still coming to terms with the MMC's controversial report on the tied system.
In accepting the four-year appointment, Mr Odgers is making a considerable financial sacrifice. He will be swapping a pounds 300,000- plus job at McAlpine for a salary of pounds 87,620.
South African-born Mr Odgers spent three years at the Department of Trade and Industry, first as an industrial adviser and then as head of its industrial development unit.
Following spells at GEC and Tarmac he joined BT in 1984 but left in 1990 after what appeared to be a clash of styles with its chairman, Iain Vallance.
Married with three children, Mr Odgers has been chief executive of McAlpine for two-and-a-half years.Reuse content