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UK News Ex-ITV chief Lord Allen lined up to chair Balfour Beatty

21:45  05 may  2021
21:45  05 may  2021 Source:   news.sky.com

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Balfour Beatty, one of Britain's biggest construction groups, is lining up Lord Allen of Kensington, the former ITV chief executive, as its next chairman.

a sign on the side of a building: Balfour Beatty employs 26,000 people © Reuters Balfour Beatty employs 26,000 people

Sky News has learnt that the FTSE-250 company, which is one of the main contractors on the HS2 high-speed rail link, is in advanced talks to appoint the Labour peer as Philip Aiken's successor.

Sources said his appointment could be announced as soon as Balfour Beatty's annual meeting next week.

If confirmed, it would mark an unexpected return after more than a decade to the boardroom of a London-listed company by one of Britain's most prominent businessmen-turned-parliamentarians.

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Lord Allen left ITV in 2006, having engineered the company's creation through the merger of Carlton Communications and Granada two years earlier.

He has not served on the board of a publicly traded British company since 2010, when he stepped down as a non-executive director of Tesco.

The peer has, however, held a string of other big jobs, retiring last month as chairman of Copenhagen-listed ISS, the vast support services provider.

He also chairs Global, the UK's biggest commercial radio group, and has held directorships at 2 Sisters Food Group, the poultry producer, Virgin Media and EMI Music.


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Lord Allen's current portfolio includes a position at Moelis & Company, the New York-based investment bank.

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His surprise comeback will see Lord Allen work alongside Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty's highly regarded chief executive.

Egon Zehnder International has been advising Stephen Billingham, Balfour Beatty's senior independent director, on the search for a successor to Mr Aiken.

The company has been stabilised by the current management team following a turbulent period seven years ago when it saw its financial performance nosedive.

It had been restored to a position of strong growth prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and said recently that it was repaying £19m in government funds used to furlough employees.

Balfour Beatty is is one of the main contractors on the HS2 high-speed rail link © Sky News Screen Grab Balfour Beatty is is one of the main contractors on the HS2 high-speed rail link

Balfour Beatty employs 26,000 people, and works on major infrastructure projects around the world.

Its shares have risen by nearly a quarter over the last year, and now has a market value of just over £2bn.

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The company's recovery marks a contrast with its dire state in 2014, when - having issued a string of profit warnings - it was forced to rebuff a series of takeover offers from rival Carillion.

Charles Allen holding a sign posing for the camera: Lord Allen was chief executive of ITV © PA Lord Allen was chief executive of ITV

Less than three years later, Carillion had been forced to call in liquidators after failing to secure an emergency bailout from the government or private shareholders.

Balfour Beatty declined to comment on Wednesday, while Lord Allen could not be reached.

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