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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Gavyn Davies: The socialist millionaire
Gavyn Davies
Gavyn Davies (3rd left) was a key political adviser
The news that Gavyn Davies is to take over as chairman of the BBC will undoubtedly be met with cries of both approval and derision.

Mr Davies is undeniably a talented man - he is a self-made tycoon - and his "promotion" from vice-chairman of the corporation means he knows the business of the BBC inside out.

But he is also a long-term Labour supporter.

When he was appointed vice-chairman there were accusations of cronyism because of his friendship with chancellor Gordon Brown.
Gavyn Davies
Mr Davies was a guest economist for the BBC

And the Conservatives will undoubtedly be quick to attack the appointment again - despite the fact it was made on the basis of an independent panel's recommendation.

Mr Davies' wife Sue Nye is private secretary to Mr Brown and when the chancellor attempted to soften his image by posing with his then-fiancée Sarah Macaulay at a children's birthday party, it was in Mr Davies's London house with his son Ben.

It was this same home that hit the headlines last August when a group of squatters revelled in the elegant surroundings and whirlpool bath before being ejected.

Wise men

But the 50-year-old was also well regarded by John Major's Conservative government.

He was one of Kenneth Clarke's economic wise men, and his brother-in-law Rick Nye was a speech writer for William Hague.

Almost as soon as Mr Davies was appointed to the BBC board of governors it was suggested he was being groomed to take from Sir Christopher Bland, who was due to depart in 2003.

Squatters
The squatters at Davies' house left peacefully
Born in Zimbawe to Welsh parents, Mr Davies started his career in the civil service following an Oxford education.

For five years he worked in the Downing Street policy unit, as an adviser to both Wilson and Callaghan.

When Margaret Thatcher came to power he moved to the City, eventually being headhunted by US investment giant Goldman Sachs.

His shrewd dealings are believed to have netted him an estimated £150m personal fortune.

One share deal alone was reported to have brought him £15m.

At one time he was linked with the deputy governorship of the Bank of England, but was said to have turned it down because no guarantee was offered that he would succeed governor Eddie George.

Controversial

Mr Davies' first taste of the BBC was as a guest economist on news programmes.

Last year he was drafted in to chair a committee into the future funding of the BBC.

His controversial proposals included selling off half of BBC Worldwide and all of the BBC Resources department.

These ideas were eventually rejected.

The committee also put forward a proposal to charge TV licence-payers an extra £24 to fund the BBC's digital services.

This idea was dismissed out of hand by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Its report stated: "The BBC's claims for additional expenditure on new services are sketchy at best.

"The BBC has in our view singularly failed to make the case for a much expanded role in the digital era and consequently for additional external funding."

His involvement with the review led to raised eyebrows from BBC unions on his appointment to the board of governors.

Mr Davies is a keen supporter of Southampton Football Club, even going so far as trying to buy the club with Sir David Frost in 1996.

Mr Davies and his wife live in Wandsworth with their children Rosie and Ben and have a second home in Devon.

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