People: SWA chief sidesteps independence question

New Scotch Whisky Association boss David Frost is not easily drawn into the independence debate. At a “meet and greet” dinner with the City of London financial press last week, it was pointed out to him that he had said nothing about a certain major issue for Scottish business coming up next September.

Olympian Eve Muirhead is a speaker at the EIE14 technology investor conference. Picture: GEtty
Olympian Eve Muirhead is a speaker at the EIE14 technology investor conference. Picture: GEtty

“The Ryder Cup?” the former career diplomat asked. Later, Frost did venture uncontroversially that recent “contributions” on the Scottish independence vote, such as whether the country could keep the pound or gain European Union membership, were “welcome”. However, he may have wanted to avoid the “I” issue, having been caught out at a similar event in Edinburgh a week earlier when his comments on the benefits of the Union made a few headlines.

Gate Films staff shape up

Gate Films boss Simon Lewis will be in Edinburgh to launch the production company’s expanded Scottish office this week, so his staff had better be in shape. Lewis has just completed the Panama Ironman 70.3, which involves a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run – all in 40-degree heat. And he has persuaded 13 of his staff to join his “triathlon club”.

“I believe its good for the brain,” he says.

Lewis will be leading training sessions, including some in Scotland, as he prepares them for a triathlon in Manchester later this year.

Bayern’s powerful touch

Executives from ScottishPower owner Iberdrola must have thought some unaccustomed stardust was being sprinkled on the normally prosaic energy industry when heavy media interest was noted at London’s upmarket Landmark Hotel in Marylebone where they were staying.

Alas it was not for them. They were there to present the energy giant’s annual results and found their fellow guests were the Bayern Munich football team, champions of Europe, who were in town for the clash with Arsenal.

Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer for ScottishPower, revealed in his presentation that the business saw earnings decline 11 per cent in 2013, but he did not get carried away by the Bayern effect and avoided opining that operationally it had proved “a game of two halves”.

Looking to cash in

Legendary Swedish value investor Peter Gyllenhammer will be hoping the adage that one man’s loss is another man’s gain will prove true for his latest investment.

Gyllenhammer, who has invested in a string of Scottish companies over the years, including SuperGlass, last week bought a sizeable stake in North Sea explorer Trap Oil.

He emerged as an investor in the firm after non-executive Miles Newman, who together with his wife sold their Aberdeenshire-based business Reach Oil & Gas to Trap several years ago, announced that the couple had disposed of half of their stake.

The fall in Trap’s share price in the past couple of years means they only banked around £1 million for the trade, compared to the £5m the shares were worth when Reach was acquired.

Just as well the canny couple also negotiated a £20m cash payment as part of the deal.

Smokin’ turnout

An event that ought to go off with a bang takes place this week with the launch of Innis & Gunn’s latest addition – Smokin’ Gunn – which will be presented by its “inventor” David Ashton-Hyde.

Muirhead skips in

And in case you’re already suffering curling withdrawal effects, there is another chance to catch up with Eve Muirhead, the skip of the Olympic bronze-winning British ladies team.

She has agreed to join Sir Brian Souter as a speaker at the EIE14 technology investor conference organised by Informatics Ventures, which takes place at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms in May.