People & Business: McGowan and Snowdon move into manufacturing

Fresh from selling Burnfield, the hi-tech engineering group, to Fairey at the turn of the year, Brian McGowan and Clive Snowdon have bought into a small manufacturing and distribution company, Umeco.

Mr McGowan walked away from Williams Holdings, the group he founded with Nigel Rudd, to go his own way with Burnfield five years ago. Mr McGowan recruited Mr Snowdon as finance director at Burnfield and then promoted him to managing director, while he was chairman. The partnership worked well at Burnfield. When they took over its market cap was pounds 13m and by the time they sold out at Christmas it was worth pounds 64m.

Mr McGowan's recent history at House of Fraser, where he is also chairman, has been less happy. He was brought in three years ago very much as the "golden boy" to float the company, but its share price today still lags some way behind its issue price. Last week Mr McGowan promised shareholders that if there was another cock-up at House of Fraser, he would fall on his sword.

No doubt this will be of comfort to shareholders in Umeco, whose biggest business is making aircraft refuelling systems. Messrs McGowan and Snowdon have reversed into the company by buying 5 per cent of the enlarged equity, following Umeco's acquisition of another company, Wellmar, and a pounds 9.2m placing and offer.

Mr Snowdon tells me Umeco's profits are growing by around 30 per cent a year and they're looking to increase export earnings. They're also looking for a new head office, preferably somewhere near Stratford-upon- Avon, where Mr Snowdon lives.

Would you buy life assurance from Tony Blair? How about an endowment policy from John Major or a PEP from Paddy Ashdown?

Continuing our series of election-related financial trivia, we learn from Cornhill Life that, of 1,000 people surveyed, 18 per cent would feel most happy buying a life policy from Mr Blair, with 13 per cent for both Mr Major and Mr Ashdown. The female vote of confidence was lower than the men's for all three politicians. So much for all that stuff about Mr Blair appealing to the female vote.

When it comes to which chancellor you would most like to look after your personal finances, Gordon Brown, with 6 per cent, beats Kenneth Clarke, with 3 per cent. Fully 80 per cent of those polled would prefer a "properly qualified financial adviser".

Barely a week passes these days without news of another high-profile investment by Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. In recent weeks, for instance, he has taken 5 per cent stakes in Apple and TWA. Both acquisitions conformed to his reputation for putting money in ailing but salvageable brand names. Now he has broken the pattern with the announcement of an alliance between himself and the theme-restaurant giant Planet Hollywood. Planet Hollywood is not in trouble - yesterday it announced that first- quarter profits had tripled to $101.6m - but Prince al-Waleed is jumping aboard anyway. He has bought 1 per cent of the company's outstanding stock and has paid for the right to manage 34 Planet Hollywood restaurants in 23 countries in Europe and the Middle East.

British Invisibles is launching its latest global campaign to trumpet the achievements of the City, using the Royal Navy.

BI's chairman, Brian Pearse, has adopted this 20th-century version of gunboat diplomacy because the Royal Yacht Britannia, which BI has used for the past 10 years or so, is retiring. BI has agreed with the Royal Navy to "use aircraft carriers and other naval vessels as a temporary substitute".

Roy Leighton, chairman of BI's export promotion forum, says the Navy is keen on the idea. The modern ships are designed for wining and dining foreign decision makers, since most of the frigates and destroyers have helicopter hangers at the back (sorry, stern). So the heirs of Nelson have proved Napoleon wrong; we're a nation of financiers rather than shopkeepers after all.

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