New ITV boss meets with City approval

Troubled broadcaster ITV saw its shares lift by 3.5 per cent yesterday after it announced the appointment of City high-flier and former Tory MP Archie Norman as its chairman.<br /><br />After months of speculation, analysts applauded the selection of a big-hitting turnaround specialist, with strong links to the Tories, to guide ITV&rsquo;s strategy moving forward.<br /><br />Norman has been credited with turning around supermarket chain Asda, before selling it to US chain Wal-Mart in 1999, and restructuring telecoms group Energis before selling it to Cable &amp; Wireless for double the original enterprise value.<br /><br />Norman&rsquo;s priority will be to recruit a new chief executive to replace outgoing boss Michael Grade. ITV has been trying to fill the role since April, with an embarrassing lack of progress. But the process was put on hold in September until a new chairman was found.<br /><br />Analysts speculated that a chairman of Norman&rsquo;s calibre could persuade interim chief executive John Cresswell, who was planning to leave ITV once the position was filled, to stay at the company.<br /><br />Norman&rsquo;s appointment also has political implications. ITV has battled&nbsp; regulatory constraints since it was created by the merger of Carlton and Granada in 2004, and was disappointed in September when Ofcom decided against relaxing advertising rules.<br /><br />&ldquo;If the Tories come to power next year and go ahead with reducing Ofcom&rsquo;s power, having someone with an &lsquo;in&rsquo; to David Cameron could be helpful,&rdquo; said Panmure Gordon analyst Alex DeGroote.<br /><br />WHAT WILL BE ARCHIE NORMAN&rsquo;S FIRST&nbsp; PRIORITY?<br /><br /><strong>CLAIRE ENDERS </strong>ENDERS ANALYSIS<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; His priorities will be to navigate through to the digital switch over, and to reallocate resources within the existing costs in the most optimal way. Things were getting better anyway, regardless of a new chairman, so it is really a question of how he deals with the uncertainties of 2010.<br /><strong><br />ALEX DEGROOTE </strong> PANMURE GORDON<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The appointment of such a big hitter de-emphasises the need to get a high profile chief executive. The market is already turning around and there is less of a need for draconian change. I would argue for an insider in the chief executive role, and I think that insider is John Cresswell.<br /><br /><strong>SAM HART </strong> CHARLES STANLEY<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; While it looks solid now, you have to question the sustainability of the balance sheet in the current advertising decline and changing market. I would say that the priority is to get a new chief executive&nbsp; in to do a rights issue to address the balance sheet for the next three years or so.