The Business On: Keith Harris, Chairman, Seymour Pierce

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The Independent Online

Not that bloke who used toperform with Orville?

Very droll. Do you think he might have heard that one before? This, as well you know, is a different Keith Harris. He is the chairman of one of London's biggest independent stockbrokers and will soon see it get even larger. Seymour Pierce yesterday announced a merger with Gerova Financial of the US. The group will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with Mr Harris at its helm.



Will he have to move to the US?

Not necessarily, though Mr Harris knows New York well. His high-flying investment banking career included a stint in the city as president of Morgan Grenfell.



Would he prefer to be in the UK?

Probably. Mr Harris's rise in the City has been meteoric, but he is best known for his high-profile role in football finance, which might to be tough to continue from the other side of the Atlantic. He has advised on a string of football club takeovers and played a leading role in helping Roman Abramovich to buy Chelsea. He is also a lifelong Manchester United supporter and was a founder member of the Red Knights, the group set up to try to buy the club from the Glazer family.



How's that going?

Not so well actually. The Glazers are determined not to sell and Man Utd fans have kept buying their season tickets. It has been a frustrating quest for the Red Knights so far.



Is that because they're just another bunch of money men?

Be fair. Mr Harris may be wealthy – and set to become ever more after yesterday's deal – but he is a genuine football man too. He even played semi-professionally, turning out for Bradford Park Avenue when he was studying economics at Bradford University.



Not exactly the big time?

No, but they're a thriving non-league club. And Mr Harris made it to the Football League proper in the end, spending two years chairing it until its fallout with ITV in 2002 resulted in many clubs being plunged into financial difficulties.

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