People: The business diary

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ATTENDING a dinner to celebrate the launch of two tyres didn’t at first sound too riveting, but Apollo Vredestein certainly proved it knows how to throw a party.

The Indian-Dutch company took over Mansfield Traquair in Edinburgh last week to show off its latest ranges in a series of Imax-style videos interspersed with a performance by Escala, the electronic string quartet who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2008.

Guests, including international trade journalists, were dined at long tables in the main hall, giving it the appearance of a Hogwart’s banquet. The evening was completed by a rendition of Scotland the Brave by Scottish pipers.

Apollo chief executive Luis Ceneviz told The Scotsman that the company has hugely ambitious plans for Europe and is close to announcing whether the Czech Republic or Hungary will be the site for a much-prized €500 million (£400m) manufacturing plant. It will be a key factor in the firm’s aim of moving into the world’s top ten sellers from its current position of 16th. That will mean growing from a $2.3 billion turnover to $6bn.

It was interesting to listen to their reasons for bringing the global motoring press to Scotland to test drive the tyres: sadly, not as a contender for the factory site, but for the testing on open roads, the four seasons in a day (the rain and sun that accompanied their trip would have been handy for getting a true test) and, of course, James Bond.

The soundtrack to Skyfall, the most recent Bond film, was played during dinner, but photos of Sir Sean Connery were flashed up on screen. That was either a concession to his Scottish roots, or else an admission that he remains the enduring image of the master spy.

Plenty of flip, but no flop

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has not lost his sense of humour amid criticism that turnarounds in his fabled forward guidance are giving him a reputation for indecisiveness.

Answering the “flip-flop” allegation as part of a two-pronged question at the unveiling of the Bank’s financial stability report last week, Carney told reporters that he would pass the first question to financial policy committee colleague Andrew Bailey, and that he would take the second one.

The governor then smiled and said: “No, let’s take it the other way around.”

Fraser’s labour of love

Summerhall in Edinburgh was the venue for the launch party of journalist Ian Fraser’s book Shredded, which set out to tell the full story of the collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland.

There was a good turnout that included former RBS chief economist Jeremy Peat, former Scottish cabinet minister Susan Deacon, director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland David Watt, and the financier Peter de Vink. PR executive Denise Hannestad from the Communications Business and a smattering of well-kent faces from the press were also in attendance.

Fraser said the book had been a labour of love and admitted there was room for a second volume. “The story is far from over,” he said.

Trams put to the test

Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir Philip Hampton was keen to check the lender’s fancy electronic voting system was working properly at last week’s annual general meeting, so he posed a test question to make sure shareholders knew how to work their handheld devices.

Investors chuckled when the statement “Edinburgh’s trams are running well” was flashed on screen. When the votes were counted, only 41 per cent agreed with the claim – perhaps a little mean given that there have been no problems since scheduled services began last month.

Once the voting proper was out of the way, and shareholders were free to leave the bank’s sprawling Gogarburn headquarters, their chairman wished those who were making use of the nearby tramline a more pleasant journey home than they seem to have experienced so far.