People & Business : Guests cast chill over tourist conference

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The Independent Online
Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley was doing her bit for British tourism yesterday at a conference at the banqueting suite at Westminster Palace. Though she was treated to warm applause she may have noticed a certain frost in parts of the auditorium.

The chill was emanating from two of the guests. In one corner sat Sir Rocco Forte, erstwhile head of the Forte hotels empire. In the other corner, as far away as possible, was Charles Allen, chief executive of Granada, Forte's conqueror in last year's epic bid battle. Needless to say, they didn't speak.

Grant Bovey, the video entrepreneur whose bid to buy Nottingham Forest never materialised, is gradually coming to terms with life without footie.

Poor Mr Bovey was dumbstruck when Lawrie Lewis, his main backer, pulled out at the last minute. Apparently Mr Bovey had all the documents on the table ready for signing when Mr Lewis dropped his bombshell. "I spent the weekend trying to collect my thoughts but for now, it's back to sorting my video business out."

Watershed Pictures has been in a company voluntary arrangement for two years but there could soon be an important development. "We had two approaches to buy the business before the Nottingham Forest situation came up. We are now revisiting those."

The Institute of Chartered Accountants has broken with tradition by choosing a woman as vice-president for the first time in its 117-year history. Dame Sheila Masters of KPMG will take on the top spot in 1999 and take the august body into the next millennium. She saw off the challenge of Price Waterhouse's clubbable Graham Ward to win the post at the third time of trying. Dame Sheila is regarded by beancounter wags (there are one or two) as already running the country on account of her non-executive directorship of the Bank of England and similar roles at the Inland Revenue and the NHS.

Good to see that students have lost none of their radical fervour. On Tuesday, the Oxford Union Society - nursery of many a great and lesser parliamentarian - hosted a debate on the motion: "This House believes that big business is bad for democracy and social development."

At the event, which was sponsored by St Luke's, the ad agency that is run as a co-operative, the students appeared overwhelmingly in favour of the motion. But the opposition had all the best jokes. Bill Emmott, editor of the Economist, opened by saying he had a problem with his position, since he bore some resemblance to Lenin, who - it will be recalled - remarked that whenever he met a big businessman he wanted to kill him.

Douglas Gustafson, a World Bank official speaking on the same side, had earlier recalled his 16 years as a butcher before pointing out that, all thoughts to the contrary, this was different from his current calling.

The City analyst merry-go-round is spinning apace at Hoare Govett. Julie Bower has quit as the broker's alcoholic beverages analyst to join Schroders.

Her departure leaves stalwart Eric Frankis holding the fort. But as one sector specialist bales out another parachutes in. Julian Hardwick, the former BZW food manufacturing analyst, is due to team up with Hoare Govett any week now.