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Nominet appoints new chairman

Lawyer Bob Gilbert joins after long search

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Nominet has at last found someone to fill its chairman post - retired top company lawyer and experienced chairman Bob Gilbert.

Gilbert, 57, was until last year a high-flying senior partner of Birmingham law firm Wragge & Co, becoming its youngest-ever partner aged 25. He is also one of Birmingham's most well-known businessmen and has been or remains chairman of a wide range of big organisations.

They include: the Motorsport Development Board, Everest Foods Plc, Plumb Holdings Plc, Variety FM, Victoria Plc and ADAC Paintbox Ltd. He has also been a director of Magneti Marelli Plc and York Trailer Plc, among others.

Gilbert is recognised as a leading company lawyer - something that will suit Nominet well in what may be difficult legal waters ahead. He was also one of the first UK lawyers licensed to practice as an insolvency lawyer by the DTI, but we shan't read too much into that.

Less illustrious was his chairmanship of Marketing Birmingham, which was faced with a lot of criticism and saw several key members quit, although Bob fiercely defended the organisation. It also produced a LogoWatch item.

The other downside appears to be that Gilbert has very little experience of the Internet, although when we spoke to Nominet's managing director, Lesley Cowley, in January, she told us this was not necessarily what Nominet was looking for. . "In general, [we want] someone who is experienced at a senior level, able to chair meetings, who has made an outstanding contribution within their industry, and who has experience of a company of Nominet's size," she explained, adding, "this really is a traditional chairman role of developing strategy. It is open to a wide range of people, although they should be Internet-aware."

In a statement today, Cowley, who has been renamed chief executive of Nominet, said: "This appointment is great news for Nominet. Finding a new chairman with the boardroom experience and all round business expertise that Bob will bring has been quite a challenge. But now that he is in place we are sure that Bob will make a huge contribution to driving Nominet forward and we are very pleased to welcome him to the team."

Gilbert said: "This is a rare opportunity to be involved with a successful organisation at the heart of a very dynamic and challenging industry. I look forward to realising some of the potential for growth and development that exists at Nominet and in helping to shape Nominet's future direction and corporate ambition."

The chairman post has been unfilled since founder Dr Willie Black left the company on 8 December after nine years (Black is now a member of Nominet's Public Advisory Board). An initial recruitment drive saw four applicants of 70 shortlisted and interviewed but none were found to be suitable and in January this year the post was re-advertised. ®

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Nominet finding it hard to replace Willie

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