Rupert Murdoch is UK's most written-about FTSE chief

Rupert Murdoch has for the second year running been named the FTSE 100 chief executive who has had the most newspaper coverage, according to an annual survey.

Business information company Sweet and Maxwell found that the News Corporation chairman and chief executive was mentioned 3,037 times between September 2006 and August this year in regional and national newspapers.

This was 40 per cent up from his 2,326 mentions in last year’s survey, his profile having been boosted by his successful takeover of the Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch’s son James, chief executive of BSkyB, is ranked 12th in the survey with 563 mentions, up from 16th last year.

Lord Browne, the former BP chief executive who left the company amid controversy over a homosexual relationship in May, was the second most written-about chief executive, mentioned 1,652 times. ITV‘s Michael Grade was in third place with 1,635 mentions.

Sweet and Maxwell said the figures show that chief executives are increasingly seen as spokesmen for their companies, instead of chairmen.

The average FTSE 100 chief executive appeared in 195 newspaper articles last year, up from 186, while chairmen were mentioned in an average of 106 stories.

The company’s research said: ‘Although [CEOs] are theoretically junior to the chairman, one aspect of their executive responsibilities is now seen to be the lead point of contact with the financial press.

‘The lower profile of the chairman seems to be part of the ongoing evolution of the role from being the figurehead of the company to taking a fully independent role centred on managing the board and communicating with shareholders.”

The survey also reveals that despite the heightened press interest in the private equity sector, leaders of buy-out firms were mentioned relatively rarely and maintain a lower profile than most FTSE 100 bosses.

Damon Buffini, head of Permira, was featured in just 415 press articles. Nick Ferguson, chairman of SGV Capital, who revealed that many private equity bosses pay a lower rate of tax than their cleaners, featured in just 167 articles.

Northern Rock chief executive Adam Applegarth featured in only 139 articles between September 2006 and August 2007. However Applegarth was mentioned more than 600 times over the past two months, following the Bank of England’s bailout of the mortgage lender.

One businessman who outstrips everyone, Roman Abramovich, with 5,218 mentions, owns Chelsea, a private company.

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