Comment: Cairn needs results as Gammell quits

Sir Bill Gammell. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
Sir Bill Gammell. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
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SIR Bill Gammell’s rugby playing days are rarely omitted from any mention of him in the media so he may as well get another one today.

Given his subsequent achievements in the oil industry there must be only a penalty kick between which one he regards as the bigger highlight.

Gammell’s imminent retirement as chairman of Cairn will bring an end to a second self-made career in which he has earned a fortune for himself and his shareholders and built a company that spent some time in the FTSE 100.

His big break came when the company struck oil in India. It turned an Edinburgh energy minnow into one of Britain’s biggest companies and propelled its then chief executive into the premier league of business leaders.

Of course, there have been some difficulties along the way. He was caught up in the shareholder rebellions in recent years, not least over the board’s plan to give him a one-off cash and shares payment of £4 million for selling part of its valuable stake in Cairn India.

The company itself has been forced to defend its hefty investment in a so far fruitless search for oil in the sensitive waters off Greenland. Attacks came from both sides of the energy divide – from investors becoming agitated by the lack of return on their cash and environmentalists angry at what they regard as a despoiling of virgin territory.

The setbacks in Greenland have encouraged the company to shift its focus elsewhere, not least the North Sea, and Gammell will have more time for his other business and sporting interests. Simon Thomson, his succesor at the oil company will have to prove he can succeed without the founder’s presence. If he is to get Cairn back to its old winning ways he needs to resolve a tax dispute with the Indian authorities over the sale of its remaining stake in Cairn India and find that elusive black gold in the Arctic Circle.

Persistence pays off as ladies defy the dragon

IF persistence is a virtue then it might be said that self-styled “mumpreneurs” Julie Wilson and Amy Livingstone have it in bucketloads.

They have proved Duncan Bannatyne, one of Scotland’s best-known businessmen, wrong when he claimed they would struggle to make any significant money out of their baby bibs business, Cheeky Chompers.

After reporting a six-figure gross profit in their first year they not only defied the leisure tycoon but also his fellow entrepreneurs on BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den who refused the two women any support for their enterprise.

It shows that success is built on self-belief and a go-do attitude as much as it is on the support of others. And, after all, Dragons’ Den is really just show business.

Twitter: @TerryMurden1