ITV auditions Direct Line chief exec for leading role

Oliver Gill
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Paul Geddes is the chief executive of Direct Line, which was originally owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)

ITV has held talks with the boss of one of Britain's largest insurers as it seeks to fill the vacancy left by outgoing chief executive Adam Crozier.

Direct Line chief executive Paul Geddes has been lined up by ITV after Crozier announced his departure earlier this month, according to reports.

Geddes has led the insurance giant through its spin-off from state-backed lender RBS and subsequent listing on the London Stock Exchange. Sources told the Sunday Telegraph he is viewed as a "safe pair of hands".

Read more: Direct Line profits take £217m hit from discount rate cut

ITV chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette is under pressure from shareholders to find a replacement for Crozier, who leaves the firm in just over one month's time. Crozier's departure announcement was coupled with a boardroom shake-up that saw finance chief Ian Griffiths take on a new role of chief operating officer.

Bazalgette kicked off the process of "normal" long-term succession planing in December. At the time he denied this meant Crozier's departure was imminent.

ITV is not the only major broadcaster auditioning for a new boss. Channel 4, BT TV and STV are looking for new leaders.

Read more: ITV shares dip as it warns a football drought will hit revenues

David Abraham and Rob Woodward are sticking about to help the recruitment process at Channel 4 and STV respectively. BT TV's Delia Bushell has departed, weeks after masterminding BT Sport's £1.2bn victory in the European Champions League football auction.

Geddes joined the board of Channel 4 last year as a non-executive director.

Direct Line and ITV declined to comment.

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