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Traditional FD has edge at Carlton & Granada

Pundits say Granada FD Henry Staunton's accounting background makes him an early favourite to be finance director of the new media company formed from the merger of Granada and Carlton.

Henry Staunton, FD of Granada, and Paul Murray, group FD of Carlton, must both be hard at work on the practicalities of the merger between their respective companies. But they could hardly be more different.

Staunton, 54, an FCA, has followed a traditional FD career path. An economics and statistics graduate of Exeter University, he began his career at Price Waterhouse in 1970, joining the partnership in 1981. He looked after major clients such as Granada and Reuters before joining Granada as group FD in March 1993.

In contrast, Murray, who is 41, has no formal accountancy qualification. He graduated with an engineering science degree from Durham in 1984 and became a platform engineer for Mobil in the North Sea. His first taste of the City came at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which he joined as an equity analyst covering oil companies. From there he moved to Thomson North Sea. When Thomson was acquired by LASMO in 1989, Murray stayed on, progressing through a number of senior finance and business development roles before being appointed to the board as corporate development director in 1997. He was made LASMO’s FD in 1999, then joined Carlton as group FD on 1 January this year.

The choice between these two for FD of the post-merger group, assuming competition clearance is given, is interesting. Staunton offers greater experience in the media sector and an accountancy-based approach. Murray offers relative youth, City credentials and coalface business development experience. Both are respected in the City.

“Paul has less experience in TV, but both are good,” says Nick Bertolotti, media analyst at JP Morgan. Even so, the weight of expectation appears to be in Staunton’s favour.

This may reflect not only his greater media experience, but also his more traditional background – which is highly valued again in the post-Enron, risk-averse climate.

“Those who have come up through a commercial route are no longer flavour of the month,” says Suzzane Wood, a partner at executive search firm Odgers Ray & Berndtson. “CEOs and boards have swung back to traditional FDs.”

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