City Diary: A man with a mission to bring films to London

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The Independent Online
David Potter, the charming chap who has breathed new life into mini merchant bank Guinness Mahon, is set to do the same for film-making in London.

Mr Potter has been appointed non-executive chairman of the London Film Commission, which is the creation of Christabel Albery of the notable theatre family, and aims to copy the huge success of similar bodies in cities like New York.

Mission: Impossible, the latest Hollywood blockbuster, was made on location in London, and Mr Potter hopes that more film-makers will choose the capital. "The City, Government and Labour have all come to see how films bring jobs and revenue," he says. The commission will promote London as a location and help provide facilities, by simplifying relationships with local boroughs, the police and residents' associations.

Guinness Mahon has been involved in raising film finance in the last 20 years, for projects such as Richard III, The Crying Game and Howards End. The bank's Global Rights Fund recently bought the rights to Sooty - although Mr Potter groans: "I think Sooty has had about as much coverage as he can bear."

Who is the Hot Tub Sheikh? Over the past few months a mysterious Middle Eastern investor has appeared on the Chicago currency markets, taking multi-million-pound long positions in sterling-dollar options (ie betting the pound will rise against the greenback). Dealing desks don't know who he is, but he has laid such large bets that the white-sock boys have paid him the ultimate punter's accolade and awarded him a nickname.

One senior economist recalls a similar anonymous investor who gave governments a fright by moving currency markets in the 1980s, who was dubbed simply "the Egyptian". No one ever found out who he was.

As for the Sheikh, who presumably phones in his deals from a hot tub, the economist muses: "He's probably just some lowly guy who works for Sumitomo."

The price per copy of the Treasury's summer forecast on the economy has risen from pounds 6.50 last year to pounds 7.50. This, as an economist points out, represents a 15.3 per cent increase, compared with headline inflation of just 2.2 per cent. Doctor, heal thyself.

When Granada's chief executive Charles Allen joined the company five years ago he suggested that they should buy five or six of the top UK football clubs as an investment. Boardroom colleagues thought the City would never wear it, and the idea was shelved. Since then, the City has done a 180-degree turn, feting clubs like Manchester United. Which does not console Mr Allen, since those clubs that have floated are already fully valued, with no bargains to be had. As ever with investment, Mr Allen reflected yesterday, timing is all.

John Menzies will step aside next year as chairman of the newspaper wholesaling company which bears his name after 45 years in the top slot. The Eton-educated Scot, who is 70 next year, becomes life president as part of a wider shake-up of senior management. His career spans an early stint in the Grenadier Guards and 11 years as a director of Vidal Sassoon, the upmarket shampoo company. Mr Menzies is a member of the Royal Company of Archers, a select body of men who make up Her Majesty's Bodyguard for Scotland. Sometimes they even don the gear (including a feather- plumed hat) and shoot some arrows. A long way from shifting newspapers.