Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline Beecham and Cadbury Schweppes are among 12 FTSE 100 business giants that this week considered signing up to help high-performing foundation trusts achieve 'excellence'.

Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline Beecham and Cadbury Schweppes are among 12 FTSE 100 business giants that this week considered signing up to help high-performing foundation trusts achieve 'excellence'.

They attended a breakfast meeting with prime minister Tony Blair to hear a briefing on the 'FTSE/foundation trust link' programme, first mooted by Monitor last year.

The Foundation Trust Network is running the project and hopes to match companies with 'four or five' first-wave foundation trusts.

Each partnership will negotiate precisely what business support is needed and can be provided. Options range from seconding a non-executive director to the trust's board to management mentoring.

One foundation has already made links with the private sector: Derby Hospitals foundation trust chief executive Julie Acred took part in a short secondment to Jaguar last year.

However, a number of the FTSE 100 representatives at the meeting said they would want the benefits to the private sector to be made clear before they signed up.

Cable and Wireless chair Richard Lapthorne said he would expect to be clear from the beginning about what his company could learn from a specific trust as well as what help it could offer. He said 'well-intentioned ideas' were not enough.