BNFL’s Parker takes first seat at new Liverpool agency

The first name on the board of Liverpool's new regeneration super-agency will be Michael Parker, the group chief executive of BNFL, who has been appointed inaugural chairman of the company.

Parker, 61, was selected by Liverpool City Council, to "help the city take the steps needed to secure a place as a premier international city for business, investment and commerce."

Despite a lack of regeneration or property experience, the main areas of the new organisation, Parker is described as "an international big hitter, who is well-known in Whitehall." The council and its partners in the new company, English Partnerships and the North West Development Agency, will be hoping Parker's international reputation will help secure inward investment into the city's economy.

He has overseen operations at BNFL, based in Daresbury near Warrington, since July 2003, following two years as group chief executive of The Dow Chemical Company in Michigan.

Cllr Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "Mike is a highly respected business leader in both the UK and US and has a reputation for getting things done.

"He is without question a senior international heavyweight and is exactly the type of high-calibre, high-profile person we said we would recruit. There is no doubt that he will be an asset to the new company, the city and the wider city region at this time of great opportunity and challenge.

"Increasingly we are seeing people from the region making their mark elsewhere and returning to use their skills working in their 'first' city. Michael has strong links with the city and he impressed us not only with his enthusiasm for Liverpool and his achievements in the international business world."

Parker was born in Waterloo and educated at Waterloo Grammar School before reading chemical engineering at Manchester University and later gaining an MBA from Manchester Business School.

He started his career at chemical giant Dow in 1968, working in the USA, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong before becoming president and chief executive officer in 2000.

At BNFL, which has more than 11,000 employees and this year announced profits of £2.3bn, Parker has led a major restructuring and disposal programme.

Parker said: "I've lived and worked all round the world but Liverpool is where I'm from. This is a great opportunity to give something back to this important city and its people and help put it back where it belongs, as an international centre for business.

"This is an exciting and important time in Liverpool's history and I want to do all I can to ensure we compete effectively for business investment with other European city-regions."

Parker's first task will be to act as part of the panel selecting a chief executive for the new company that is being created from the merger of Liverpool Vision, Business Liverpool and Liverpool Land Development Company.

A long-list of 24 senior regeneration executives from around the UK has now been reduced to a shortlist of four. The chief executive is expected to be in place by the New Year.

However, many people's favourite to land the job, Jim Gill, chief executive of Liverpool Vision, is refusing to comment on speculation that he has not applied. Gill is reportedly keen to retire in around two years' time when he will be 60, and is rumoured to believe it would be wrong to fill the position if he could not commit for at least five years.

The new company is expected to be operational by April 2008. Surveyor Keppie Massie is currently conducting a search for new premises for the company, of between 10,000 sq ft and 15,000 sq ft, in the city centre.

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