People and Business

Harris is sick as a parrot

KEITH HARRIS may have stepped aside as chief executive of HSBC's Investment Banking Division, but he is still very much involved with advising their client, Manchester United. And yesterday he said he was "very upset about the result".

Not about the Government blocking BSkyB's bid for United, you understand. On that subject Mr Harris remains demurely silent. Rather the FA Cup Semi- Final at Villa Park on Sunday, when United were held 0-0 by Arsenal. "We beat them hollow," Mr Harris thunders.

On a lighter note, Mr Harris is joining his friend Chris Akers as a non- executive director of Sports Internet, an online gambling and sports company floated on Aim by Mr Akers in March.

Mr Harris says he was introduced to Mr Akers around five years ago by a mutual friend, Neil McClure, formerly with Saatchi & Saatchi and now head of Silver Shield, the owners of Swansea City Football Club.

Mr Akers reckons Mr Harris will "add a lot of City and financial gravitas to the board. When I used to head Leeds Sporting [which owns Leeds United] we appointed HSBC as brokers".

Mr Harris was originally hired by Michael Grade to put together a reverse takeover of Manchester United on behalf of VCI. When this failed United snapped him up as an adviser.

The former HSBC man has more avenues he wishes to pursue: "I hope to announce another two jobs by the end of the week."

It's a dog's life

JONATHAN DAWSON of Lazards, leading the defence of Electra Investment Trust against 3i's hostile bid, was chuckling on Friday after someone pointed out that the cartoon mascot for the Inland Revenue, which had just knocked a hole in Electra's defence, is an inspector called Hector.

Hector is also the name of Mr Dawson's Labrador dog. Apparently the poor thing has been missing his regular walkies since 3i's bid kept his owner at the office into the small hours.

Pole positions

THE NORTH POLE is going to be virtually buried beneath businessmen at the end of this month. Lewis McNaught of Gartmore Fund Managers is leading a party, including Giles Leather of Charles Stanley, the stockbrokers, on a trek to the geographic North Pole in aid of a charity called Starlight Children's Foundation.

Mr McNaught conquered the geographic South Pole last year. This year's party will include Neil Laughton, an ex-Royal Marine and director of Office Projects Ltd, and a guide, Pen Hadow, who runs the Polar Travel Company.

The quartet will undergo medical tests by a team of researchers before and after the trek to check on the effects of exposure to cold. I hope Mr McNaught returns with toes intact.

EMI nets Samit

EMI GROUP has recruited a veteran of the music business, Jay Samit, to head up its Los Angeles-based New Media division in the first move by the British company towards building a global Internet presence.

Mr Samit is currently head of original content development for Universal Studios' New Media Group. He was also president of animalhouse.com, an "online community" for college students.

Prior to that Mr Samit founded and ran Jasmine Multimedia Publishing for over 15 years. Jasmine produced and marketed hundreds of software titles for companies including Walt Disney, Ford and IBM.

Energy sharing

SIBIR ENERGY, an Aim-listed company, made a recommended offer for EuroSov Energy last week. In order to avoid any of those pesky culture-clashes that often bedevil such link-ups, the chief executives of each company, Henry O Cameron of Sibir and Jonathan Stewart of EuroSov, are to share an office.

I'm assured by a company spokesman that the room at EuroSov Energy's offices in Sloane Street, London, "is large enough for both of them not to be sitting on top of each other... but they will both be able to keep a close eye on each other."

E-mail: j.willcock@independent.co.uk

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