An adviser to Rishi Sunak and former Goldman Sachs banker is set to be installed as the new chairman of the BBC, stepping into a key role at the top of the corporation as it faces a series of critical debates on its future.
Richard Sharp, who has also held a series of roles within the arts establishment and was an adviser to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, had been considered the frontrunner for the £180,000 a year post. His appointment is expected to be announced on Thursday.
Sharp, 64, whose appointment was first reported by Sky News, was once Sunak’s boss at Goldman Sachs and has been an unpaid adviser on the economic response to coronavirus over the last year. He steps into a fierce debate over the BBC’s future funding, with the long-term sustainability of the licence fee under scrutiny ahead of charter renewal in 2027.
He will work alongside recently the appointed director-general Tim Davie and succeeds David Clementi, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, who is stepping down in February after four years as chairman of the broadcaster.
There was alarm within the BBC last year when the columnist and severe critic of the corporation Charles Moore was floated as a candidate before ruling himself out in October.
Sharp will be viewed as an ally of the government and has made donations to the Conservative party but was also linked to an abortive centrist group, United For Change.
The former banker joined the Bank of England’s financial policy committee in 2013 and was credited last summer with a key role in the £1.5bn arts bailout package announced by the chancellor.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the BBC have been approached for comment.