Bunhill: Corporate detectives on the case

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ON THE principle of the smaller the company, the grander the name, Emma Codd and William Mountain have started a business to help 'small punters' and called it Independent Global Research.

They are former employees of Kroll Associates, the US corporate investigations agency, and of Bishop International, a similar outfit based in the City.

Both have worked for the big guns on asset searches, takeover defences and due diligence inquiries.

Still in their mid-20s, they admit they are now hooked. 'And,' says Codd, 'we think we've seen a way of making this kind of research more affordable for small punters. We want them to feel they can approach us for advice when they first suspect they have problems, before the rot sets in.'

Both principals have formidable antecedents in the business world. Mountain is the second son of Sir Denis Mountain, of the family that founded Eagle Star. Codd's father, Geoffrey, was director of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

Armed with databases and specialist contacts, the new business duo are rather more than mere gumshoes, although they have taken an office - up narrow stairs above an empty shop in London's Charlotte Street, opposite Channel 4 - that is redolent of Sam Spade.

They claim that since moving in a month ago they have been inundated with work, much of it from previous clients.

'At times likes this when nothing, no one, is cast-iron,' says Mountain, 'common sense dictates that before people invest or do a deal, they should check things out - just as they have a survey when buying a house.'

So what does IGR have to offer that Kroll or Bishop does not provide already?

'A tailor-made, personalised service,' he says. 'And low overheads.' Despite the fancy name . . .