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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
TV bosses: 'Two ferrets in a sack'

By Mary Gahan
BBC News Online Business Reporter

Charles Allen of Granada and Michael Green of Carlton
Not a happy relationship
If Granada and Carlton's merger talks end in a deal, then Charles Allen will be the man who runs the new television company with Michael Green as his chairman.

It might not be an easy relationship.

Mr Allen is described as charming and steely, Mr Green as brilliant with mathematical analysis.

Their relationship would be "chalk and cheesy", according to those who know them.

"It's hard to see them working harmoniously together given the scale of their spectacular egos," says the BBC's Business Editor Jeff Randall.

"It will be like two ferrets in a sack."


ITV's two biggest television companies are waiting to hear whether the Competition Commission will approve their merger plans which were announced last year.

They have already agreed that Granada would own two-thirds of the new company.

Coronation Street
Pop Stars
Stars in Their Eyes

The line-up of Mr Allen and Mr Green had already been agreed when the firms first announced they had been holding merger talks nearly 18 months ago.

But when Granada and Carlton's joint venture, the pay-TV company ITV Digital went bust last summer, it was not clear that either man would survive to take on his role at any merged business.

Shareholders were furious that 1bn ($1.6bn) of their money had drained away through the failed business.

But the two men at the top managed to hold their reputations intact while others took, or were forced to take, the blame.

They included Granada's chief executive Steve Morrison.


What Charles Allen and Michael Green have in common is that they are consummate businessmen, they are tenacious and they have strength in the boardroom.

But their backgrounds and attitudes are very different.

Inspector Morse
Peak Practice
Kavanagh QC
Family Fortunes

One person who has worked with them said that Mr Allen had a hard upbringing and his first job was as an apprentice in a shipyard.

By contrast, Mr Green was from a middle-class family and had a more privileged childhood.

Granada's boss worked at British Steel and Grand Metropolitan before joining Granada when it ran restaurants and hotels as well as a TV company.

He became group chief executive in 1996, before becoming Granada Media chairman two years ago.

Last summer he had a high profile role in the Commonwealth Games as chairman of Manchester 2002.

The games were seen as a great success for the North West and the exposure benefited both Mr Allen and Granada.

Unnatural allies

Michael Green was thrust into the public eye when, against the odds, his media company Carlton wrested the ITV London weekday franchise from Thames television.

He likes to keep out of the spotlight and only occasionally agrees to interviews.

It is thought likely that he would stay at a new merged Granada-Carlton for only a short time.

But since he sold 30m worth of shares at the peak of the media boom, he can look forward to a comfortable retirement.

Whatever the differences between the two men, with both their businesses facing difficulties they are doing their best to make a combined company work.

"They're very keen to see it through, but they're not natural allies," said one business associate.

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