Portland aims for 'new level' with hire of former Sky boss Tony Ball

Tony Ball is latest heavyweight to join Tim Allan's agency as hiring spree continues.

Council chairman: Tony Ball
Council chairman: Tony Ball

Portland has followed up last week's high-profile capture of The Sun's political editor George Pascoe-Watson by snaring former BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball.

Ball, until recently frontrunner to become ITV chief executive, has been signed as chairman of the agency's new high-level 'advisory council'.

Earlier this year, Portland raised eyebrows by appointing former cabinet minister Michael Portillo to the part-time council. The latest news comes days after it emerged that Pascoe-Watson is to join Portland as a partner.

The clutch of new signings indicates an aggressive drive by Portland, once seen as a 'New Labour' consultancy, to capitalise on the changing political climate. The agency also recently hired George Eustice, former press secretary to Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

Ball's appointment takes effect immediately. He left Sky in 2003, when he signed a £10m non-compete clause that prevented him working for a commercial rival for two years.

ITV said last month it had terminated discussions with Ball to become its new chief executive, as executive chairman Michael Grade prepares to leave the broadcaster.

It was reported that Ball had demanded a total package of £42m over five years, which was deemed excessive by ITV. Agency founder Tim Allan, himself a former deputy communications director at Downing Street under Tony Blair, said: 'Tony Ball is one of Britain's best businessmen and he will be an enormous asset to Portland. Having a chairman of his calibre will lift Portland to a new level.'

Ball said: 'I have watched Portland develop over the past few years and I am excited about playing a part in the next stage of Portland's growth.'

Portland's clients include Google, Coca-Cola, Tesco and the Kofi Annan Foundation.

Portland snares Sun man

 

PORTLAND SIGNINGS

October: News breaks that The Sun's George Pascoe-Watson is to join Portland as a partner

September: Conservative heavyweight Michael Portillo joins Portland to sit on a new high-level 'advisory council'

March: Portland appoints George Eustice, former press secretary to Tory leader David Cameron, as an associate partner.

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