Tipped for success in boardroom 'soap'

Rod Olsen (left), an energetic New Zealander, is the dark horse in the Cable & Wireless soap opera. The finance director was thrust into the spotlight last Thursday, briefing the press on the group's interim results - usually a joint presentation by Lord Young and James Ross.

According to one insider: ''Rod has thrived so far through sitting on the fence, always going with the grain. But he certainly has ambitions to be more than finance director." Mr Olsen joined the main board of Cable & Wireless in 1986. An accountant, his career before C&W involved stints at BP, Peat Marwick Mitchell (the forerunner to KPMG) and the electronics industry.

Duncan Lewis (right), who resigned abruptly in September as chief executive of Mercury Communications, is variously described as "abrasive" and "a real showman - his own best publicist". He was seen by many as the natural successor to Mr Ross until it became clear that dissatisfaction with Mr Ross was one of the reasons that he quit the top slot at Mercury after only nine months in the job.

As yet without alternative employment, there is a view that Mr Lewis may be waiting by the telephone. But the manner of his departure - and the resulting spotlight on C&W's beleaguered board - has ruffled more than a few feathers at the Theobald's Road HQ.