Belfast Telegraph

UTV starts the search to replace chairman McGuckian

By Margaret Canning

Media company UTV has appointed headhunters to find a new chairman after the shock departure of John B McGuckian.

Industrialist Mr McGuckian resigned last week after board members voted to remove him.

UTV said it considered that his "close association" with Irish investment company TVC Holdings, which holds 18% of UTV, had compromised his independence.

Mr McGuckian is a board member and minor shareholder of TVC, which built up its UTV share following a rights issue in 2008.

TVC executive chairman Shane Reihill and Kevin Lagan also renounced their non-executive directorships at UTV. There has been speculation that TVC wished to find a buyer for UTV, which it argues is "undervalued".

Non-executive director Helen Kirkpatrick has been appointed interim chairman.

Don Anderson, a former BBCNI executive who wrote a history of UTV on its 50th anniversary in 2009, said: "UTV has a very competent board and any other member could step into the position of chairman.

"They could opt for a chairman from outside the company but they have never done so to date."

He paid tribute to Mr McGuckian: "When he took over as chairman UTV's revenues derived from the sale of airtime in TV. The company he leaves now has re-orientated itself as a fully-fledged media company in the realm of not only TV but radio in the Republic and Great Britain, new media, internet and so on.

"This has enabled the company to survive and prosper in conditions within the media often less than comfortable. He can look back on his years as being ones of considerable achievement."

UTV refused to comment and said it was in a "closed period" ahead of its results on March 22.

Economist John Simpson said: "Yet again UTV has changed its top management in what appears to be an unhappy boardroom agreement recalling the same thing happening to founder chairman Brum Henderson."

Mr Henderson left in 1990 after a 30-year association with UTV.

18 - The percentage share of UTV held by the Irish investors TVC Holdings