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The corridors of power...

Interviewing chairmen and chief executives for The Times, I get to see inside the offices of the great and good of business. Probably the most impressive I've seen is the chairman's office at British American Tobacco, overlooking the Thames near Temple.

Nick Land at Ernst & Young has a great view of Tower Bridge, but he sits on an open plan floor, so it doesn’t really count.

Martin Broughton, who steps down as BAT chairman at the end of the month after 11 years in charge, admits he will miss the river views. As successor to Lord Marshall, chairman of British Airways, Broughton will have to make do with a dodgy unit at BA’s Waterside headquarters, built on an old landfill site just off the M4.

Doing the rounds of these guys reminds me just how much boardroom movement is going on this year. It’s like a game of pass-the-parcel. I recently interviewed Sir Christopher Hogg, chairman of Reuters and GlaxoSmithKline (he is stepping down from both) and Niall FitzGerald at Unilever. FitzGerald is moving across to Reuters to succeed Hogg. Sir Christopher Gent, formerly of Vodafone, is taking the helm at GSK.

Undoubtedly, this cross-fertilisation of ideas is a good thing. Broughton will bring a fresh perspective to running an airline. FitzGerald will have some insights into Reuters vs Bloomberg. But not all the positions are being filled. Quite a few chairman’s slots are going vacant.

The unhappy experience of Sir Stuart Prosser – forced to turn down the Sainsbury’s deputy chairmanship – has given the headhunters a bit of a shock. Perhaps they are being cautious in putting forward candidates.

Or maybe the talent is going in to private equity instead.

  • Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times.

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