The City of London has chosen economist and former accountant Michael Mainelli to become mayor of London in 2023, following a secret ballot held by a group of bigwigs at Square Mile.
The City of London Corporation’s Alderman Court has voted for Menelli for the post, which also comes with a long list of ceremonial duties to welcome overseas tourists to the UK and promote the City of London around the world, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Lord Mayor lives in a mansion close to the Bank of England all year round, where lavish dinners are held for bigwigs from all walks of life in the city. Candidates are often awarded knighthoods after taking on unpaid roles.
The decision means another candidate for the position, consultant Alison Gowman of the law firm DLA Piper, will miss out on becoming the third woman to hold the position in more than 800 years.
As the local government for Square Mile, the City of London Corporation has been accused of being an Old Boys Club by critics who say the processes behind most of its decisions are often opaque. Only four women sit on the 25-member council of city councillors, the court that elects the mayor.
Mainelli is the co-founder of the City of London think tank Z/Yen, which aims to promote social progress through better finance and technology, and previously worked at BDO Accounting and as a senior civil servant in the Department of Defense Defence Assessment & Research mechanism.
He was elected one of two Sheriffs in the City of London in 2019 and is widely seen as a stepping stone to becoming mayor.
A letter to New York City’s painting companies, trade associations and guilds, seen by the Financial Times, said the city council had agreed that Mainelli “will have the mayor’s support in 2023/2024”.
He will follow Nicholas Lyons, chairman of insurance company Phoenix, who will take over the role later this year.
Lyon has faced some controversy after members of the City of London Corporation raised concerns about his eligibility for Irish citizenship, while also noting that his appointment meant the city missed out on electing his rival as the first openly gay mayor.
Lyon will become the city’s 693rd mayor, succeeding DLA Piper finance partner Vincent Keaveny. The election of Mainelli is still subject to the formalities for the 2023 election in the city’s public hall. Mainelli could not be reached for comment.
The appointment process is overseen by an external panel chaired by BAE Systems boss Sir Roger Carr.
“As in previous years, the court hopes that this process of determining which candidates to support for promotion to higher positions in the coming years will continue to be beneficial to the painting companies,” the letter to the painting companies concluded.
The City of London Corporation said: “As usual, mayors will be elected in an open and transparent manner in the public halls. Every year, we publish a letter on our website sharing the names of individuals who are backed by city councillors to run for mayor. “