City & Business: Smoking Gunn

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The Independent Online
FOR a man facing what he calls a 'two to 15-year stretch' of disqualification as a company director, John Gunn sounded remarkably perky when we spoke on Friday. Mr Gunn, who was savaged 24 hours earlier in the Department of Trade and Industry report into British & Commonwealth's suicidal takeover of Atlantic Computers, says it is business as usual for him. It could be two years before his case even comes up in court, and he plans to fight it every inch of the way.

That he is on the board of two public companies is well known. Less known is that he holds another 20 directorships of private companies. He is a business angel with investments in publishing, sports equipment, light engineering, carpet making and housing. Disqualification would therefore be quite a blow for him.

The 380-page report will prove a talking point for years, not least for the countless lawyers making and defending claims and counter- claims amid the wreckage of B & C. It's quite a tale: B & C paid more than pounds 400m for a business that turned out to be worthless, and Mr Gunn and his inner coterie decided to keep mum even after discovering the fact.

I recommend the report to anyone thinking of buying a business, big or small, if they are relying to the tiniest degree on the scrutiny of professional advisers for comfort against being sold a pup. Skimp on 10 minutes of advice from accountants and merchant bankers, and spend the pounds 35 you save on this. .