A lecture on how to lose millions

City Diary
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The Independent Online
An entrepreneur who headed two businesses that went bust, and who went into personal insolvency two years ago, has been made visiting professor at Sunderland University's Business School.

John Broome is to head up the team of principal and senior lecturers who will teach the country's first degree course in themed leisure management design.

Mr Broome first sprang to fame with Alton Towers, which he developed as a leisure park in the 1970s and then sold to Pearson in 1990 for pounds 60m. Then in 1987 he bought Battersea Power Station in London and things turned sour. His ambitious project to turn the site into a leisure attraction, a scheme personally launched by Margaret Thatcher, went into liquidation in April 1994 with a deficiency of pounds 75.8m.

Still enthused by big projects, he launched a pounds 22m redevelopment of Carden Park in Cheshire. Bank of Scotland sent in the receivers in October 1994. Developer Steve Morgan then bought Carden from the receivers. According to receivers, creditors suffered losses of "many millions of pounds".

There were more losses when Mr Broome entered an individual voluntary arrangement with his creditors to pay off his personal debts later in 1994.

Mr Broome said yesterday that he was "delighted" by the professorship. "It is a considerable accolade to be awarded such a post and to be able to pass one's knowledge on to the younger generation in this field...."

Malcolm Shearson, an insolvency practitioner with Grant Thornton who was involved in the Carden receivership, said: "It does prove that there are opportunities after insolvency."

To the Bank of England's Museum, tucked away in the Bartholomew Lane entrance, where curator John Keyworth lets slip some of the facts not found in the guide books.

According to Mr Keyworth, the most popular exhibit is the pile of gold bars in the middle of the Rotunda. "They're actually made from dentist's paste," he says, deflatingly. "The owners of the gold we keep (the Government) wouldn't allow us to show the real stuff."

There are two real bars, bought for the museum, but you'll have to guess which.

Mr Keyworth and his colleagues have been advising the German Bundesbank on its own planned museum, although the 1939-45 years have proved a touchy subject. It seems that Basil Fawlty's "Don't mention the War" may well be its slogan.

Back in Threadneedle Street, the museum has recreated Sir John Soane's elegant Bank Stock Office, where Victorian investors would come to count their coupons.

The museum is still free, so City workers can pop in and try their hand at the fully working foreign exchange desk, without the losses and stress of the real thing.

Chris Ingram, chairman and chief executive of advertising company CIA Group, is taking his entire 200-odd workforce on an adventure jaunt at Pickwell Park near Heywards Heath, West Sussex.

Mr Ingram and his finance director Peter Toynton will lead the gang on a helicopter treasure hunt, as well as a highly violent version of It's a Knockout. The latter includes rocket firing, mortar combat and a pump- action shotgun duel.

Whether any of the ad people will survive to service their clients, such as Lloyds TSB, Calvin Klein and Unilever, remains to be seen.

However feebly our athletes did at the Atlanta Olympics, console yourself with the thought that one Birmingham company won four gold medals, three silver and four bronze.

IMI's chief executive Gary Allen is rightly pleased as punch that the group's Brummie subsidiary, Eley, made the ammunition for four of the gold medallists in the small bore shooting competition.

Shooters from Russia, China, Yugoslavia and France found the bullseye with Eley ammo.

Mr Allen, who has been at IMI for around 30 years, also points out that all of Eley's bullets are used in peacetime target shooting, with none going to the military. So Eley wins the Green as well.