Banking on the Edinburgh fringe

People and Business
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AS EDINBURGH prepares for its annual festival, the city's one home-grown merchant bank, Noble Grossart, has made two promotions. Craig Armour and Sally Grossart have been appointed executive directors of the bank's corporate finance department.

In fact the bank, founded by Sir Angus Grossart in 1969, still largely sticks to providing corporate advice, eschewing other activities like fund management, says Sir Angus.

And as her name suggests, Sally Grossart, 34, is related to Sir Angus, 61, being her niece. So is the 22-strong workforce stuffed with family members? "No, she's the only one," Sir Angus assures me. "Her brother Hamish was trained here, but he went off to be a company doctor." Hamish Grossart's chairmanships have included Royal Doulton and Scottish Highland Hotels, Sir Angus adds proudly.

As for Sir Angus himself, he originally trained as an advocate, the Scottish equivalent of a barrister, and was a pupil of Lord Mackay of Clashfern, no less. After seven years at the bar, during which he picked up an accountancy qualification "en route", Sir Angus decided to found his own merchant bank, since there weren't any other Scottish ones about, he says.

Since then his corporate activities have multiplied, and he currently sits on the boards of Royal Bank of Scotland, the Scottish Investment Trust and Mirror Group, among others.

"I plan to die of exhaustion, but not of boredom," he concludes.

THE CHANNEL Islands Stock Exchange (CISX) has appointed Tamara (Tammy) Menteshvili as chief executive.

Don't worry if you haven't hear of the CISX - it's only set to open later this year. As if the London Stock Exchange didn't have enough rivals already, what with Paris and the rest. Ms Menteshvili was formerly the deputy director of investment business at the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, and before that she worked for the old British investment regulator Imro. She originally gained her commercial experience with Merrill Lynch in London and New York in the 1970s.

EXETER INVESTMENT Group has received the resignation of Jonathan Custance Baker, its group managing director, "due to a difference of opinion over the group's future strategy", the company says intriguingly.

Exeter said a suitable replacement will be identified as soon as possible and in the meantime Ian Henderson will continue as chief executive.

MICROGEN HOLDINGS, a computer data handling company, has named Martyn Ratcliffe as executive chairman to succeed Douglas Lee, who is resigning as a director after 25 years.

Mr Ratcliffe exercised his option to acquire 1 million shares in Microgen last Friday, raising his holding to 4.9 million shares, around a tenth of the company's market capital.

Microgen announced a raft of other management changes yesterday. Group finance director Mike Phillips has joined the board, while David Herridge and Gerry Liddle have resigned from the board but remain with Microgen as senior managers of the operating companies and members of the senior management team. Andrew Goodman has been appointed as a non-executive director.

KEITH CARBY has been appointed non-executive director of Ambient Media Corporation, a marketing company which came up with the idea of advertising on the back of cash machine slips. Ambient floated on AIM in May and is chaired by Vincent Isaacs, the man who set up General Portfolio, an insurance group which he sold in 1989 for pounds 289m.

Mr Carby joins other non-execs at Ambient including Lionel Ross, former group finance director of Whitbread, and Ronald Jacobson, founder of stockbroker Jacobson Townsley. The board also includes Bill Stuttaford, former Takeover Panel boss and grand old man of the unit trust industry.

NM ROTHSCHILD has been handing out some promotions after a successful spell in corporate finance. Warner Mandel, who worked on the team advising BT on the joint venture with AT&T, is one of six promoted to the board of NM Rothschild Corporate Finance. The others are Jeremy Boardman, Roger Ewart Smith, David Forbes, Avi Goldberg and Stephen Vaughan. A trio have also been promoted to the board of the bank: Christopher Coleman, Stephen Louis and Jervis Rhodes.

ROGER ELMHIRST, chairman of Zotefoams, had a novel reason for his company's slowdown in profits this year. Apart from the usual culprits like the strong pound, the Croydon- based plastic foam-maker also blamed "a slowdown in supply to the three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle manufacturers ..."

It transpires that Zotefoams supplies toy manufacturers like Hasbro, the American giant, with the foam which goes inside such three dimensional jigsaw puzzles as a four-foot high Big Ben, a monstrous Notre Dame and a replica of Harrison Ford's spaceship from Star Wars, the "Millennium Falcon".