People & Business: Life's a gas for former defence minister

Michael Portillo has got a new job at Kerr McGee, the giant American oil company based in Oklahoma, I hear. Senor Portillo has bagged a "senior management position in the exploration department" because, according to a source close to the company, the former defence minister is "an expert in gas".

Quite so. Mr Portillo worked for Kerr McGee in the 1980s. His new job gives him responsibility for international business development.

Hang on a minute. How does this square with Mr Portillo's oft-reported remarks this week that "I have politics in my blood - I want to get back to help Hague"?

He can't stand for election and prospect for gas in Alaska at the same time. Or can he? It would certainly make a change from his current job as part-time commentator for a TV series on English country houses.

Sunday Business is about to be sold and could very well end up back in the hands of its original founders, Tom Rubython and Anil Bhoyrul.

Since its launch 16 months ago the paper has gone through a number of owners and settled on a circulation of around 20,000, as opposed to the 150,000 envisaged by Mr Rubython at launch.

Its latest majority owner, Gordon Brown, a businessman from the North, has problems of his own. His company, Group 2000, went bust two weeks ago, and receivers Coopers & Lybrand have now found a buyer for his 75 per cent stake in the paper.

Edward Klempka, an insolvency partner in Coopers' Leeds office, said yesterday: "We are at an advanced stage of negotiations and hope to announce a sale later this week. It is likely to be a share sale which will preserve the jobs of all 60 staff at the paper."

I hear from other sources that last Friday there was no cash to pay the journalists or the printers, and it was the founding duo, messrs Rubython and Bhoyrul, who came up with the pounds 100,000-plus needed to get the paper out and pay salaries.

As for Luke Johnson, son of the right-wing columnist Paul Johnson, who owns the other 25 per cent of Sunday Business, some people think he wants to sell out. But anything could happen in this tangled tale.

To De La Rue's offices off the Strand, London, for a talk by the company's security paper guru, John Haslop, titled "Banknote Substrates".

Contrary to its unpromising title, Mr Haslop's thoughts on the future of making banknotes counterfeit proof were fascinating. For one thing, the cashless society is a myth and will probably never happen, according to Mr Haslop; banknote use is increasing by 3 to 4 per cent a year in the UK. Cheques are being replaced by credit and debit cards, but many people still prefer old-fashioned cash.

Well, I suppose De La Rue, which supplies the paper for 150 national currencies, would take that line. But Mr Haslop could be right. He illustrated his talk with Australian banknotes, which for years have been made from very un-De La Rue plastic. Apparently forgers have found ways of removing the print on the plastic and replacing it with the image of higher-denomination notes.

This criticism gets short shrift from an Australian colleague of mine, who says plastic notes are cleaner and last longer than paper notes. Oh, and "you can scrape the Queen's head off them with a coin". Disgraceful! Let's hope for a few nasty bouncers from Darren Gough.

Here's a spot of shameless puffery for a former colleague; David Bowen has launched his own monthly newsletter titled net profit - untangling the internet for business. The newsletter's title is in lower case in order to resemble an Internet address. Either that, or David's keyboard has a dodgy caps key. Anyway, the July issue ranks a number of new corporate web sites in order of usefulness, and gives a five-star rating to Persil.

More worryingly, the newsletter reveals that 71 per cent of Internet users in Britain are men. Is the information superhighway just an excuse to access swimwear catalogues? You can find out more on net profit's web site at http://www.net-profit.co.uk.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas