Carlton executive hired to smooth merger with Granada

LONDON - Carlton's director of strategy has been given the job of coordinating the TV company's merger with Granada to create a single ITV, in a move that will reassure Carlton's employees that the deal is not turning into a takeover.

According to the Financial Times, Nick Markham has been appointed ITV integration project director to help oil the wheels of the merger, and to bring the two companies together with ITV Network Centre, the existing commissioning and scheduling body.

Markham will work on a "100-day integration plan" with Granada chief executive Charles Allen, who is due to become chief executive of the new ITV.

The new post comes a week after Carlton chairman Michael Green was forced out as chairman-designate of the merged company by shareholders led by Fidelity.

Yesterday, it emerged that Allen might suffer the same fate as Green and could be forced out by shareholders unless he improves the fortunes of the merged ITV. An interim chairman is likely to be appointed next week, and Sir Brian Pitman, former chairman of Lloyds TSB and a senior non-executive director at Carlton, is thought to be the frontrunner for the job.

Markham's appointment may help to ease concerns among Carlton employees that the merger was looking more like a takeover. There are no Carlton executives on ITV's board of directors and three of the four divisional directorships have already been given to Granada.

Granada is keen to assuage these fears, and outside headhunters are due to be commissioned next week to find a new chairman to replace Green.

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