City People

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SANDY ANDERSON, the former Porterbrook Leasing millionaire, is looking to float his latest venture - a wine theme attraction - on the stock market in a move that could value the business at pounds 50m.

Vinopolis - City of Wine aims to be the first visitor attraction dedicated to the world of wine, and will feature a multi-media tour of the wine world, a tasting hall and four restaurants.

The venture opens on 22 July, and Mr Anderson is keen to seek a listing on the Alternative Investment Market early in the new year.

Vinopolis, located under the arches of Cannon Street railway bridge in London, cost pounds 23m to develop.

Mr Anderson - tapping a mix of City contacts and wine buffs - has already raised pounds 4m of the additional pounds 6m he needs by the end of August. "I really think it's going to be big. Corporate hospitality bookings are already going through the roof," he says.

WHY IS it that the English are so prone to cultural stereotypes when they find themselves in a pickle?

I hear that the video of last week's BBC television Reputations documentary on Eamonn de Valera is the viewing of choice for Alliance & Leicester executives licking their wounds after the collapse of Bank of Ireland merger talks this week.

What had them nodding in sympathy was Lloyd George's comment that negotiating with the Irish was "like trying to pick up mercury with a fork". Perhaps someone should remind them of de Valera's riposte: "Why didn't he use a spoon?" the legendary Irishman said.

THE YOUNGER you start, the further you go.

Scottish finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, 29-year old Chris van de Kuyl, founder of games software company Vis, regaled the 400 or so executives present at the ceremony with tales of his boyhood enterprising spirit.

Stealing cigarettes from his mother in a bid to force her to give up smoking, the 12-year-old van de Kuyl sold them on for 20p each, a mark- up of at least 300 per cent.

No doubt he is hoping that sales after the Christmas launch of the latest game from his company, Earthworm Jim 3D, will prove to be at least as popular and yield as good margins.

AFTER JETTING into London to seal an online bond trading venture with Intercapital, the bond and money broker, Mike Bloomberg, owner of the eponymous financial information service, is basking in the sun for two days at Royal Ascot.

Prior to the announcement of the Intercapital venture, staffers at the hard-driving US company were understandably nervous about the reasons for the mercurial boss's presence. But it soon became clear - to audible sighs of relief - that Mr Bloomberg wasn't about to launch an overhaul of the London office.

According to one insider, Royal Ascot offers access to precisely the right sort of people Mr Bloomberg whose acquaintance wants to cultivate on his way to supplanting Reuters as the leader of the global financial information industry. Quite.

THEY DON'T make them like that any more, it seems.

When Vera Cormack, widow of Scottish multi-millionaire businessman John, died recently the couple's historic estate was put on the market at a price of pounds 2.6m, but with an unusual caveat attached.

In return for years of loyal service, the couple had both expressed the wish that whoever bought the property should keep on the cook, the butler and the ghillie.

Mr Cormack's nephew agrees that his uncle was part of a vanishing breed. "He ran his small family stockbroking firm in a fairly patrician and paternalistic manner and kept the maids in the house in employment all their lives," he says.

The twist in this tale is that agents FPD Savills are desperate to point out that although this may have been the couple's wish, it is not legally binding and that the best offer wins out. So much for honour, then.