The government is reportedly poised to name former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp as the new chair of the BBC.
Ministers will this week announce that Sharp has been appointed to succeed Sir David Clementi at the helm of the broadcaster, Sky News reported.
The appointment, which is made by the government rather than the BBC, comes at a critical time for the public service broadcaster, which is battling declining audiences and a bitter row over its licence fee funding model.
Sharp, a multi-millionaire former Tory party donor and Rishi Sunak’s former boss, emerged as a surprise frontrunner for the role in October.
In 2013 Sharp was appointed to join the Bank of England’s financial policy committee, and he remains an advisor to the chancellor.
He is expected to relinquish his duties at the Treasury when he takes up the £160,000-a-year role in mid-February, according to the report.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden is likely to announce the appointment, which has also been approved by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
While the BBC chairman has no direct influence on programming, the appointment has been widely seen as political.
Downing Street had been lining up former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore — a vocal critic of the BBC — though he subsequently ruled himself out of the race.
While Sharp is not thought to be a member of any political party, he is not short on Tory credentials.
He was a member of Boris Johnson’s economic advisory council in City Hall when the prime minister was mayor of London.
Sharp also sits on the board of the Centre for Policy Studies, the think tank founded by Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s.
As BBC chair, Sharp will work closely with director general Tim Davie, who took the reins in September with a promise to shake up the corporation.
Davie promised to double down on the broadcaster’s commitment to impartiality amid accusations of bias.
The new leadership will also have to navigate a fraught argument over the future funding model of the BBC, with suggestions the licence fee could be replaced with a subscription model.
The BBC’s turbulent period has been exacerbated from tough competition from new streaming rivals such as Netflix and Amazon, which have drawn younger audiences away from traditional TV viewing.
Aside from his political and business experience, Sharp has also built up a string of cultural credentials on his CV.
He served as chairman of the Royal Academy of Arts trust, which manages funds given to the iconic Piccadilly arts institution.
Other cultural pursuits include co-founding inner city charity London Music Masters and serving as a director on the Olympic Legacy Board.
Sharp is also said to have been key in persuading Sunak to pull together a more generous Covid-19 support package for arts and heritage organisations.
The BBC and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment.