In effect, Granada was being asked to consign Green to the dustbin of corporate history.
One could be forgiven for thinking that Granada chairman Charles Allen would relish the prospect of ejecting Green, with whom he had fallen out on so many occasions. During the On Digital fiasco, an ITV joint venture that lost the pair’s companies more than £1 billion, Green and Allen were often at loggerheads about how to bring the sorry saga to a close.
But at last week’s meeting Allen said little, according to his associates. Other City luminaries came to the fore: senior director Sir George Russell, a former head of the Independent Television Commission, turned to Hugh Nineham, a senior partner at Lovells and one of the most powerful corporate lawyers in the City of London, for advice. What were the fiduciary duties of the directors in the current circumstances?
Nineham assured Russell, and Granada’s other non-executives – including James Crosby of HBOS and David Chance, a former deputy chief executive of BSkyB – that the issue centred around corporate governance; it was not an impudent attempt by investors to get involved in daily operational matters. Unlike Carlton’s directors, who had earlier stood by Green, declaring that directors, not shareholders, had the duty to manage a firm’s affairs, Granada’s board was swinging round to a different view.
In the event, the decision of the Granada board was unanimous. The job of informing Green fell to Allen, who rang him at his north London home at 6.30 the next morning. Two hours later Green resigned. Bolton had his scalp in one of the most brutal oustings of recent times. People close to Green say that he feels betrayed and depressed. Asked for his version of events by The Observer, he would only say: ‘I cannot talk to you. I’m sorry.’