Sunak kicks off hunt for new UKGI chair as Swannell steps down

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The Treasury has kicked off a search for a new head of the Whitehall agency responsible for taxpayers' interests in businesses including the Post Office, NatWest Group and Channel 4.

Sky News has learnt that Odgers Berndtson, the headhunter, has begun contacting prospective candidates about replacing Robert Swannell, who has chaired UK Government Investments (UKGI) and its predecessor body since 2014.

The appointment of Mr Swannell's successor will be signed off by Rishi Sunak, the chancellor.

Insiders said the role was likely to go to another experienced FTSE-100 chairman, with a closing date for applications set in mid-April.

A panel which includes Baroness Vadera, the former Treasury minister who now chairs Prudential, is expected to interview shortlisted candidates.

The role pays an annual fee of £40,000.

UKGI also oversees the British Business Bank, the government's stake in Urenco, the uranium processor, and The Royal Mint.

The agency has played a significant role in Whitehall's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with its team of corporate financiers providing advice to ministers about how to support crisis-hit industries such as steel.

UKGI was formed in 2016 from the merger of the Shareholder Executive and UK Financial Investments, which was set up during the 2008 banking crisis to hold the public's stakes in Britain's bailed-out banks.

A UKGI spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday evening.