Richard Sharp taking over as BBC chairman during turbulent time for corporation

Richard Sharp will take over as chairman of the BBC during one of the most turbulent times in its history.

The 64-year-old former chairman of principal investment in Europe at financial services giant Goldman Sachs will replace Sir David Clementi when he stands down in February, BBC media editor Amol Rajan reported.

He will work closely with new director-general Tim Davie as the corporation faces scrutiny over equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services such as Netflix, as well as the coronavirus crisis.

The banker, who read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, has more than 30 years of experience in the financial sector, and spent 23 years at Goldman, where he reportedly mentored current Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Richard Sharp
Richard Sharp

Before this, he worked in both commercial and investment banking for JP Morgan.

Mr Sharp, a former chairman and an emeritus trustee of the Royal Academy, has reportedly been an informal adviser to Mr Sunak since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and played a key role in the creation of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

He was also a member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee from 2013 until 2019 and sits on the board of the Centre for Policy Studies, the think tank founded by Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s.

The appointment of the BBC chairman has been widely seen as political.

Mr Sharp, who is a multimillionaire and has appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List, is a long-term donor to the Conservative Party and sat on Boris Johnson’s board of economic advisers when he was London mayor.

He was also director of the Olympic Legacy Board.

He emerged as a frontrunner for the BBC post after Charles Moore, the former Daily Telegraph editor and a staunch licence fee critic, apparently ruled himself out last autumn.