Profile: Craig Whyte, the multi-millionaire fan with an appetite for big challenges

HE played the Stock Market as a 15-year-old schoolboy, now Craig Whyte divides his time between his London home and a castle in Moray.

But it hasn't always been plain sailing for the putative Rangers owner. In between his precocious dabbling in stocks and shares and his current status as one of Scotland's leading entrepreneurs, Whyte, 39, has had to weather a couple of financial storms.

On each occasion he has come fighting back, showing a gumption that will have struck a chord with Sir David Murray, the man he hopes to succeed at the helm of Ibrox.

His initial fortune was made in plant hire and security but he is now described as a multi-millionaire venture capitalist. He has packed a lot into his short life and it won't be lost on Rangers supporters that their prospective white knight is a year younger than the club captain, David Weir.

Raised in Motherwell, his initial exposure to the business world was through his father, Tom, who founded and ran his own successful plant hire company. "Business was all round us when we were growing up, and I obviously got very interested in ways of making money," he recalled.

His dad's success ensured a comfortable upbringing and he attended the leading Glasgow private school, Kelvinside Academy. He reportedly chose the school himself while his sister opted for the local comprehensive, Dalziel High School. Whyte plumped for Kelvinside because his friends were going there but was to later rue his decision. "I hated the discipline of it," he said. "It was a rugby-only school which I didn't play because I was interested in football."

Whyte junior got his first taste of turning a profit while still at high school. He had a weekend job with his dad, undertaking manual tasks at the plant firm. He parlayed his wages into his first small fortune when, at the age of 15, he made contact with a stockbroker and spent the next couple of years trading his way to a tidy profit.

When he left school at 17 he had amassed around 20,000.

His youthful playing of the markets whet his appetite for bigger challenges but also gave him his first taste of financial setbacks, as he was to recall when he made his first splash in business.

"I'd read about traded options somewhere, so I got some information from the Stock Exchange about the market and decided it was an interesting way to make money," he said in 1996. "But you can get too cocky and too smart. Black Wednesday, in particular, hit me. I'd left school by then, of course, and was working for my father. I had just made a particularly good investment and decided to plough the lot back into the market when it collapsed.I lost quite a few thousand."

When his father sold out Whyte junior went out on his own and started his own plant hire company near the Barras in Glasgow's Gallowgate.

Business was brisk in the first couple of years but as the recession began to bite in the 1990s problems began and Whyte put the business into voluntary liquidation. "It hurt my pride more than anything else," he later admitted. "For the first couple of years afterwards I wouldn't tell anyone about it, I swept it under the carpet."

Later, when he started a new business, Whyte was to rehire many of his old staff. By the age of 26 he was chief executive of Vital Holdings, a conglomerate that encompassed plant hire, security services and industrial and office cleaning. But it was his success as a venture capitalist, acquiring and restructuring distressed firms, that saw him amass a fortune said to be in hundreds of millions.

He returned to Scotland two years ago when he paid 720,000 for Castle Grant in Grantown-on-Spey, Moray, the former seat of the Clan Grant chiefs of Strathspey. He now wants to put more roots down in his homeland and, as a lifelong supporter, acquiring Rangers would be a dream deal for the thirty-something businessman who began playing the markets as a teenager.