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Richard Sharp, Former Boss of U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Emerges as BBC Chair Candidate

Naman Ramachandran
·3-min read

Richard Sharp, former investment head at financial services giant Goldman Sachs, has emerged as a candidate for the position of BBC chair, according to U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.

During his 23-year tenure at Goldman Sachs, Sharp was the boss of Rishi Sunak, the current U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sharp has been an informal adviser to Sunak since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is understood to have played a key role in the creation of the U.K. government’s $1.9 billion arts sector lifeline and in the $648 million production insurance scheme.

The job pays £160,000 ($209,577) a year and “all reasonable and properly documented expenses incurred in performing the duties of these roles will be reimbursed in accordance with BBC’s expenses policy,” according to the job description.

While U.K. government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) does not comment on speculation around appointments, culture secretary Oliver Dowden, speaking on broadcaster ITV’s Robert Peston show on Wednesday, said that there has been “all sorts of speculation,” around the pay for the job. When Peston suggested that a previous candidate who has since dropped out of the race, Charles Moore, was being offered £280,000 (366,681) for the job, Dowden said that the pay would not be more than the advertised amount. “These are large amounts of money, no doubt about that, but this is a big job, running an institution like the BBC, and a lot less than the commercial sector.”

When Peston asked him whether the job would go to a woman, Dowden said, “We’ll support the very best person.”

The salary amount is unlikely to be a consideration for Sharp, whose personal net worth is estimated to be well north of $100 million.

The job description calls for an “individual with demonstrable leadership skills and a passion for the media and public broadcasting, to represent the public interest in the BBC and maintain the Corporation’s independence.” The position also requires “experience of exercising financial management and securing value for money.”

After having served as chair of the Royal Academy of the Arts for several years, and also as an adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, and as a member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee from 2013 until 2019, Sharp would appear to fit the bill.

The position will close for applications Nov. 11, and final interviews will be in early December. The appointment will be made by Dowden, with the agreement of the Prime Minister.

The names of former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, Robbie Gibb, a former BBC executive who became Johnson’s communications chief, and, and former culture secretary Nicky Morgan, have also doing the rounds as possible candidates.

The current chair, David Clementi, steps down in February.

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