Pembroke: Healthy return

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The Independent Online
ROGER SHUTE, the 100-a-day man who left the business scene last July, is back. Mr Shute, you may recall, resigned as chairman of BM group, the once high-flying engineering mini-conglomerate, on the grounds of ill-health described at the time as cigarette- and stress-related. The company itself later suffered a bout of extreme poorliness, turning from glamour stock to basket case in the space of a year, when the share price sank from more than 400p to yesterday's puny 15p.

Yesterday, Mr Shute staged a comeback of sorts, emerging as a director and temporary chief executive of Scottish Heritable Trust, itself something of a bombed-out stock, which used to own Standard Fireworks and some Persian carpet businesses. It now has one Glasgow-based property business, a few interests in America and pounds 28m of debt. Mr Shute, who has been dabbling in the weak and feeble a bit during the last 12 months, has snapped up nearly 10 per cent.

Is Mr Shute's health restored? According to John Whitehead, Scottish Heritable's company secretary, Mr Shute has been holidaying in Portugal, has cut down to 10 ciggies a day and is 'looking forward to getting back to business'. The company stresses that the appointment as chief executive is temporary, although Mr Shute will remain a director. Watch with interest.

HELP IS at hand for the illiterate manager. The Institute of Management is launching a computer package, Correct Letters, giving users a choice of 200 ready-written and correctly spelt letters. The choice includes letters of appointment and dismissal, giving staff the chance to be sacked by standard note. 'We expect it to do well,' a spokesman says. 'It's a useful tool.'

SAVE THE RHINO, the charity that had 95 runners in the London Marathon, including many City folk dressed in rhino garb, is at it again. In September it will send 10 enthusiasts to the Lake District to leg it across 72 miles of fells in less than 24 hours. The charity's Johnny Roberts, who clearly feels this is not tricky enough, will undertake the jaunt in his best rhino costume.

The aim is to highlight the plight of the rhinos, whose numbers have shrunk to 10,500 (down 97 per cent in 20 years). Dark doings are suspected. The main problem is the Far East, where there is a popular belief that ground rhino horn has medicinal qualities including clearing up flu.

There may be another problem. 'We think that some organisations with large stocks of horns may be trying to make the animal extinct so their stocks are more valuable,' a spokesman says.

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