Ball to stay in ITV recruitment race

TELEVISION broadcaster ITV was at the weekend trawling through a list of potential candidates to be its new chief executive, though there were mixed messages surrounding former BSkyB boss Tony Ball, who has previously been touted as the favourite to succeed Michael Grade.<br /><br />Russell Reynolds, the headhunter hired to lead the search for the channel&rsquo;s new chief executive, has lined up a number of candidates to take part in the formal interview process.<br /><br />But though Ball had originally indicated he would not take part in the process, speculation was rife at the weekend that he has bowed to pressure from supporters and will submit himself to follow official procedure.<br /><br />Major ITV investors such as Legal &amp; General and Fidelity have thrown their backing behind Ball, but are understood to have insisted that he comply with Russell Reynolds&rsquo; official recruitment procedure. The position of BSkyB, Ball&rsquo;s former employer, which owns a 17.9 per cent stake in ITV, is not known.<br /><br />Ball last week joined telecoms giant BT as a non-executive director, leading some to question whether his new position would cause a conflict of interest with any potential role at ITV.<br /><br />Grade is set to step back to become non-executive chairman of the broadcaster later in the year, though many expect him to step down entirely shortly thereafter.<br /><br />ITV last night declined to comment when asked about Ball.