Top executives from Apple and HMV are reported to be leading the race to take over from Michael Grade as ITV chief executive.
Senior ITV sources suggest to the The Times that Pascal Cagni, a London-based Frenchman and Apple’s most senior executive in Europe, is favourite to land the role.
Also to emerge from interviews ten days ago as a contender is Simon Fox, who has revived HMV in his time as chief executive at the music retailer.
The probability that ITV’s appointment will be an external candidate was heightened as Rupert Howell, ITV’s commercial director, told friends he was no longer in the running.
Grade’s deputy, operating officer John Cresswell, is considered as a fall-back option but his appointment would scupper Grade’s hopes to remain on as non-executive chairman as shareholders are demanding an outsider fills at least one of the two senior roles at the broadcaster.
An announcement could be made as early as next week as the ITV board meets to approve its half-year results, although the Guardian report that September is a more likely announcement date.
One applicant who is thought to have failed to impress the nominations committee headed by former HBOS chief exec Sir James Crosby was Tony Ball, previously BSkyB chief executive, who was said to have received a “frosty reception”.
A former front-runner for the role, Ball’s decision to join BT as a non-exec director last month may have created a conflict of interest issue.