My my my, how things can change in just a few hours. After rumours emerged this morning that former Asda boss Archie Norman was being lined up as the new chairman of Tesco, this evening the supermarket chain announced it was giving the role to Dixons Carphone deputy chairman John Allan.
The FT reported today that two of Tesco's largest shareholders were backing Norman, who is credited with turning Asda around in the 90s, to take over from Sir Richard Broadbent, who resigned in October. He certainly looked like a good fit for the role, with a track record of nurturing retail talent and cutting costs, but Allan had been looking like a frontrunner for the last few weeks.
A former CFO of Deutsche Post, Allan was the chairman of Dixons until its merger with Carphone Warehouse last year. He has now resigned as deputy chairman of the combined company but will stay on as chairman of Barratt Developments and Worldpay. He wil be paid £650,000 per year, £25,000 more than Broadbent, and will take up the role on March 1.
The shareholders' off-the-record comments are now look like a last ditch attempt to prevent him from getting the job. Tesco's decision to make the announcement at 5:30pm, after the stock market close, is presumably an attempt to stave off any knee-jerk reactions to the decision to appoint Allan over Norman. We'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to see how investors feel about the news.
Update: Wednesday 18 February
Investors gave Allan's appointment a barely perceptible nod of approval: Tesco's shares rose as much as 1.2% to 247.35p, before slipping back to 245.15p, a rise of just 0.33%. Its share price has risen an impressive 30% already this year, having fallen a swingeing 44% in 2014.