Vodafone and National Grid chairs to leave

SEVERAL blue chip managers are awaiting calls from headhunters as two of the FTSE 100’s best-known chairmen prepare to step down.

Vodafone has appointed City recruiter Anna Mann to seek out a replacement for Sir John Bond, who is expected to depart toward the end of next year. Bond, who has chaired the mobile phone operator since 2006, said at July’s annual general meeting (AGM) a succession plan would be worked out as a matter of course.

Potential candidates for the role are thought to include Roger Carr, the former Cadbury boss and current Centrica chairman, ex-Standard Chartered man Lord Davies and renowned banker John Thornton. Cable & Wireless’ Sir Richard Lapthorne has also been suggested.

Bond came under fire in the run-up to the AGM from a minority group of investors led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which accused him and deputy John Buchanan of presiding over a “disastrous” acquisition strategy. But Bond easily won the vote for his re-election and said he had no intention of stepping down imminently.

Meanwhile, Sir John Parker has decided to begin preparations for his exit from National Grid in late 2011 or early 2012. By that point Parker will have chaired the company for 11 years, counting his time at the helm of Lattice Group, which merged with National Grid in 2002. He is understood to feel the time is right to lay the groundwork for his departure.

Both Bond and Parker have decades of top-level corporate experience prior to their existing roles, the former at HSBC and the latter at engineering firms including Babcock. Vodafone and National Grid’s hunts for successors are likely to be complex and will draw attention to the common complaint of a dearth of FTSE-quality talent in Britain.