SIR Rhodes Boyson, the bewhiskered former headmaster and Tory politician, has joined his chum Desmond Bloom on the board of Manx & Overseas, an AIM-listed electrical retailer on the Isle of Man which Mr Bloom plans to turn into a property trading business.

Sir Rhodes, now retired after 23 years as a Member of Parliament, has always had two non-executive directorships ever since he left politics.

"I'm an economist, although most people think of me as an educationalist," he says. He has sat on the board of Blacks Leisure since 1987, when his friend, chief executive Simon Bentley, asked him to join. "I like these things where you look forward to turning up," he says.

"I've known Des Bloom for upwards of 20 years. He wanted me to come on this (Manx).. The City is an interesting place. This will broaden my interest," he says.

The former acolyte of Margaret Thatcher adds: "I ran a dining club when I was in politics, of which Des was a member. I'm not coming to this cold."

He does admit, however, that commercial property trading is new to him. He isn't looking for any other directorships, he says. "I don't collect them like medals."

Sir Rhodes is also embroiled in writing a book about the contemporary political scene, which takes between two and six hours of his day. He concludes: "I need some discipline. That's a good thing for a headmaster to say."

ROYAL and SunAlliance has ended up dealing with the insurance claim for Tracy Edwards' de-masted round-the-world yacht - the very yacht that the insurance company has been sponsoring.

In fact, Royal & SunAlliance owns the yacht - called, appropriately enough, Royal & SunAlliance.

Understandably, the company is chary about discussing the cost of the attempted circumnavigation of the globe. The original budget for Tracy and her 10-strong crew in their attempt to capture the Trophee Jules Verne was a cool pounds 4.25m.

Now the crew has returned to Britain after the mast broke in heavy seas. The yacht is in Chile awaiting a new mast, which will have to be made in the UK or France.

So has the project bust its budget? A spokesman for the company says: "We haven't done the sums. It's turned into an insurance claim, and we are the lead insurers."

It will be fascinating to see how strict they will be with themselves.

FOUR DIRECTORS at Flying Flowers have sold shares in the company worth around pounds 3m, just days after they bought Stanley Gibbons in an all-paper bid.

The airborne florists' chief executive Tim Dunningham sold 400,000 ordinary shares in the company at a price of 550p each, trousering a cool pounds 2,200,000.

Walter Goldsmith, the company's chairman, sold pounds 165,000-worth. Mr Goldsmith is a highly active entrepreneur, being a director of Betterware, Fitness First and Self Sealing Systems International. He is also a former director- general of the Institute of Directors and a director of more companies than you could shake a stick at.

Bringing up the rear, Flying Flowers' directors David Nightingale and Tom Walker sold pounds 550,000 and pounds 174,185-worth of shares respectively.

You can hardly blame the directors, though. Flying Flowers floated at 155p two years ago and the share price has taken flight since then. They eased 3p pence yesterday to close at 557.5p.

I HEAR CSFB has issued an edict to their new ex-BZW staff along the lines that all front line troops must be in work by 6.30am in the morning and lunchbreaks are not to be spent outside the building. It's a hard life being an investment banker these days.

ANY TAKERS for 3.20 German marks to the pound? According to Morgan Stanley, sterling fails the "Martian" test. Ravi Bulchandani writes: "It would be hard to prove to a Martian that sterling is obviously overvalued at current levels."

Mr Bulchandani names the obvious factors such as the balance of payments, buoyant demand and high level of manufacturing activity. Then he goes on: "The general `buzz' associated with New Labour, the fact that UK economic policy-making stands out for its quality - particularly in a euro-obsessed European context - and substantial improvements such as the independence of the central bank, all add up to a suggest a very favourable macro-economic backdrop for investment in UK PLC."

All very well, but surely a Martian would just zap the lot of us?

BATH Press's former non-executive chairman, Tony Fisher, has retired from the board, the company said yesterday. Mr Fisher agreed to remain as a non-executive director for the past year following the appointment of Sir James Hann as non-executive chairman.

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