Pembroke: Forging a career as a business angel

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MICHAEL STODDART, chairman of the venture capital group Electra, has been doing a bit of business angel work on his own account. Together with his son James, he has pumped pounds 100,000 into an art company which, to simplify, specialises in 'forgeries'.

Artists' Canvases produces low- cost reproduction paintings with a difference - they are reproduced on proper canvases complete with authentic brush strokes and blobs of paint.

Mr Stoddart learned of the company through Venture Capital Report, the Henley-based company that acts as 'marriage broker' between investors and growing companies. The company is now selling more than 500 paintings a week. Mr Stoddart senior has put in the cash in return for 43 per cent of the equity, and James has joined the board as a non-executive director.

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THE COLD WIND didn't put off the hardy team of Everest climbers who scaled the Lloyd's insurance building in London last week. The British Mount Everest medical team were warmed with spicy Nepalese soup in a tent on Level 10. And Chris Clarke, a doctor at Barts hospital, felt so confident that he undertook the abseil wearing a city suit, overcoat and shoes.

The climbers were not insured with Lloyd's - 'We don't self-insure' but did arrange a hefty pounds 40m worth of cover elsewhere.

'If one of them had fallen through the glass and landed on a group of high earners coming up the escalator it could have been very expensive,' a Lloyd's man explained.

I WONDER whether David Potter, the amiable cigar-smoking chief executive of Guinness Mahon, is glued to his television set on Thursday nights?

I suspect he might at the very least set the video for the TV adaptation of Joanna Trollope's The Rector's Wife, as the best-selling novelist is Mr Potter's ex. The couple separated after the novelist took up with the playwright Ian Curteis.

Now happily re-married and busy for the past few years wrenching Guinness Mahon out of the hole it dug for itself, Mr Potter makes it a policy not to talk about his first wife other than to say she deserves her success. But he did miss the first episode of The Rector's Wife because he was at the premier of Shadowlands, the new Richard Attenborough weepie. 'There wasn't a dry eye in the house,' he says.

MODESTY is clearly not a TSB quality. A new history of the bank is published later this month with the title An Invaluable Treasure.

I HEAR the rubber band broke again at the brokers UBS on Friday. A power failure brought systems down for several hours in the morning, forcing traders to abandon screen dealing and take to the phones instead.

This is not the first time fuses have blown at UBS. A couple of months ago, a systems failure on the equities floor saw the braces brigade return from their lunches to blank screens, matching, said one cynic, the expressions on dealers' faces.