Mudlark: Bowman gives S&N a plausible choice

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Philip Bowman’s arrival as a non-executive director of Scottish & Newcastle increases the options open not only to the brewer but also to its chairman, Sir Brian Stewart. In recent days speculation has been rife about which way Stewart might jump, to adhere to best practice when Standard Life, which he also chairs, joins the FTSE 100 later this year.

Bowman, chief executive of Allied Domecq, the spirits group, until its takeover by Pernod Ricard last summer, would certainly make a credible S&N chairman if Stewart should choose the life assurer. His CV also includes a stint as chairman and chief of Bass Taverns.

But Bowman wouldn’t be a shoo-in, since S&N’s non-executive ranks include Ian McAllister, former head of Ford of Britain, and Sir Ian Robinson, chairman of Hilton Group (soon to be Ladbrokes) who might end up with time on his hands.

James Crosby, HBOS’s chief executive, meanwhile, quashed another musical chairs scenario. He said: “Standard Life already has a very good chairman. It is highly unlikely that I will re-emerge in any role like that in financial services.”

Howard’s X factor

Howard Brown, HBOS’s singing bank manager, will not be crossing the Irish Sea. The bank, which plans to open 46 branches in Ireland, has decided that he will not be used to front Irish adverts as he does for HBOS’s Halifax retail products. Unlike in the UK, moreover, HBOS won’t run a staff talent competition to find Brown’s counterpart. It said, however, that it would use its usual upbeat music.

Check it out first

When a company’s shares are suspended for failure to file accounts, it is too often only a rest-stop on the highway to oblivion. But shareholders in Rotala, floated as an Aim shell last year by John Gunn, former chief executive of British & Commonwealth Holdings could sigh with relief on Tuesday when interim accounts were filed and shares resumed trading.

Rotala has finally sorted out legal difficulties arising from its first acquisition, a company providing coach service to airports and for clients, such as Aston Villa.

In a nutshell, it has agreed to pay the vendor’s former employer rather than the man himself.

Rotala, however, also found that it had “inherited a number of unsatisfactory and uneconomic commercial arrangements” which will lead to provisions. It signalled a plan to seek equity funding of £1.5m.

Next time, perhaps, better due diligence. At least the story so far is happier than the tale of B&C’s purchase of Atlantic Computers.

Not-so-old master

An exhibition of art by old boys of Harrow School including Sir Cecil Beaton and Sir Winston Churchill opened yesterday at Christie’s auction house in King Street, St James’s.

Lincoln Seligman, whose painting Cardinal featured here last week (Mudlark, January 4), is represented in the selling part of the show by Red Turban (above).

The artist was surprised to see himself referred to in the Sunday Telegraph’s preview as “Lincoln Seligman (1963), who is in his 60s”.

Seligman is only 55, and 1963 appears to refer to the year he went to Harrow. He suggests that the author “would have been in the same maths division as me (ie bottom)”. christiesart. harrowschool.org.uk

Flash gear

Reuters has such cachet in China that a businessman has applied to register its name, complete with its familiar dots and circle logo, for clothing including swimwear, football boots and baby clothes.

The applicant, Ji Shiqin, from the south-western city of Chongqing, also applied to register the trademark using Reuters’ usual Chinese name, Lutou She, which can be translated as “agency that spreads news heard on the street”.

Sipp shallowly

Investors were furious about the chancellor’s U-turn on plans to allow residential property into self-invested personal pensions. Thousands who had anticipated new Sipp rules by buying flats or houses felt they had been left high and dry.

But now they realise they were wrong all along – or so says a new survey from landlordtrader.com. It says: “The property community has shown signs of relief that Gordon Brown put the brakes on.” Either landlords are surprisingly stoic or the survey is nonsense.

Not entirely ready

Cost-of-living watch: Pret a Manger has raised the price of coffee by 10p a cup. Not that the chain’s tills yet ring up the new price.

Beyond the pale

Most tasteless press release seen for many moons: “Thailand murder – female adventurers still expected to flock to London show”.

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