ITV screening signals change elsewhere in FTSE 100

Mark Kleinman
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Carolyn McCall landed the top job at ITV
Carolyn McCall landed the top job at ITV (Source: Getty)

‎First among equals: a label Dame Carolyn McCall can lay claim to this week after being named the new chief executive of ITV.

It's not often that we know the full line-up of candidates for a FTSE-100 boss’s vacancy - but then, this is the media industry.

Read more: EasyJet boss Carolyn McCall to be new ITV chief executive

So commiserations to Paul Geddes, CEO of Direct Line, and Dixons Carphone chief‎ Seb James, both of whom made the shortlist to run the UK's biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster.

ITV's press release included the usual platitudes about a choice of impressive contenders, but to be fair to chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette, he wasn't being disingenuous: all three shortlistees would have made reasonable fists of the job.‎

That's not to say ‎McCall will find it easy. She will land at ITV in the middle of an increasingly turbulent television advertising market, and with the well-flagged challenge of Netflix and Amazon to contend with.

As interesting as the frying pan-into-fire transition that McCall faces, investors will be focused on the companies led by the defeated candidates.

Top executives rarely get to the final stages of recruitment‎ processes unless their feet have become mildly itchy - indeed, one investor tells me that Geddes was close to landing the CEO's job at a FTSE-100 leisure company a couple of years ago.

Smart headhunters will have made their first calls on Monday morning to Lord Livingston, chairman of Dixons Carphone, and Mike Biggs, his counterpart at Direct Line‎, Mike Biggs. I doubt it’ll be long before their services are required.‎‎

Charter Courts investors

It might not quite be moribund, but 2017 hasn’t been a bumper year for the City’s IPO-focused bankers.‎
One looming exception: a flotation of Charter Court Financial Services, owner of the Exact and Precise mortgage brands.‎

Institutional investors being encouraged to take an early look at the challenger bank tell me the response has been positive. The City grandee Sir Malcolm Williamson (formerly of Standard Chartered, Clydesdale Bank and Friends Life), they add, is being lined up as its chairman.‎

But as doubts grow in some quarters about Britain's economic prospects and the scope for an expansion of mortgage lending, Charter Court's IPO will be an intriguing test of investors' risk appetite.

Safestore‎ in danger

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Full marks for perseverance, but the chair of the remuneration committee at Safestore Holdings seems to have taken that saying to heart.‎

Four months after withdrawing its pay policy just hours before the storage company's AGM, its board has been gripped by collective amnesia.

A revised pay policy and long-term incentive plan are now set for a thumping revolt at next week's‎ shareholder meeting. Quelle surprise: the size and structure of the proposed payouts to bosses are scarcely different to those abandoned in March.

Despite a frantic last-ditch effort led by Boudicca, a firm of proxy consultants, to corral support, many investors are likely to vote against the resolutions next week.

That would raise the possibility of Safestore notching up an unwanted piece of City history: becoming the first listed company to see its pay policy effectively defeated twice.

Such an ignominious outcome would leave it in the position of having to secure approval before its financial year-end in October, or reverting to the existing policy.

Public embarrassment aside, that could hand remuneration committees a perverse incentive to pave the way for already-controversial pay policies to remain in force.

In the meantime, Claire Balmforth, Safestore’s boardroom pay chief, faces an anxious few days.

Read more: Safestore faces fresh shareholder revolt over its revised pay proposals

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