Two more names have emerged as potential front-runners in the prolonged search to find a new chairman for regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.

John Crabtree and David Waller are widely believed in business circles to be contenders to take over from Nick Paul, who plans to retire in December after five years in the post.

The Birmingham Post has not been able to confirm that either man is being considered, but someone close to the selection process said both would be good candidates.

“They are both well known figures in Birmingham and the West Midlands and have been involved in a wide range of activities and have high profiles,” The Post was told.

Mr Crabtree, who has been a member of the AWM board since 2006, is a former senior partner of international Wragge & Co in Birmingham.

A former president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the biggest of its kind in the country, he holds a number of chairmanships, including those of Metalrax, the Birmingham engineering company, SLR Holdings, Claimar Care Group and Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre.

He is also on the Midland board of Icelandic bank Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, which was put into administration during the recent international banking crisis.

Until recently, David Waller was at the very heart of the region’s business sector in his capacity as Midlands chairman and Birmingham senior partner at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mr Waller worked for a number of international companies before joining PwC and has served with bodies such as the Employer Skills Board, the CBI, Marketing Birmingham and the West Midlands Industrial Development Board.

The region’s business and political leaders must be hoping that the possible emergence of two such prominent contenders signals the end of an embarrassing ten-month hunt to find Mr Paul’s successor.

The Government, which is responsible for the appointment, was forced in September to re-advertise the £80,000 a year after shortlisted candidates either pulled out or had their names scratched on the grounds they were unsuitable.

The previous front-runner, Brian Woods-Scawen, a former high ranking accountant with PwC, is believed to have withdrawn in protest over the prolonged selection proceedure.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), which has the final say on the appointment, said last month that the AWM post had been re-advertised “because those shortlisted did not fully meet the requirements of the post”.

AWM chief executive Mick Laverty said at the time: “BERR’s timetable indicates that we can expect a new chair to be appointed and in place by spring 2009.”

The post of AWM chairman is a three days a week job.