City: Old wounds

ONE of the best stories about Sir Anthony Tennant, due to retire shortly as chairman of Guinness, concerns his negotiations with Morgan Grenfell over Guinness's pounds 100m out-of-court settlement with the Argyll Group. Sir Anthony felt that since Morgan Grenfell was a big part of the mischief during the Distillers takeover, it should be obliged to make a very substantial contribution. John Craven, Morgan's chief executive, and his German masters, Deutsche Bank, saw otherwise and there came a point when negotiations appeared to have reached an impasse. Without a flicker of annoyance, Sir Anthony turned to a colleague and said: 'I think it's time we paid a visit to the Governor of the Bank of England, don't you?' Within days, Morgan Grenfell had agreed to make a substantial contribution.

As Sir Anthony reminded guests at a dinner to mark his retirement at the Dorchester Hotel in London last week, they were dark days indeed for Guinness when he joined the company in the winter of 1987. His predecessor as chief executive, Ernest Saunders, had been sacked and the doors to his office locked and chained. Even the filing cabinets had been emptied by the DTI. The air was thick with scandal, recrimination and despair. In the midst of it, Sir (as he then was) Jack Lyons sent out a Christmas card showing Mrs Thatcher surrounded by the leading lights of Baine's London office and the message: 'May next year bring peace, truth and tranquillity.'

Today the contrast could hardly be greater. Guinness is one of Britain's top-performing companies, and the old wounds have healed. As if to prove the point, David Webster of Argyll, Guinness's bitter adversary in the battle for Distillers, was among those from industry, commerce, the City and government at the retirement dinner. 'It does feel strange,' he admitted. 'But it's all a long time ago now.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Guru Careers: Research Associate / Asset Management Research Analyst

£40 - 45k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Research Associate / Research Anal...

The Green Recruitment Company: Graduate Energy Analyst

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Summary: The Green Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash