Spotlight On... Algy Cluff; Chairman, Cluff Gold
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 04 April 2012
Algy Cluff. Who's he?
John Gordon Cluff, the dapper six-and-a-half footer known as "Algy", is one of the City's best-known veteran (for which read "septuagenarian") entrepreneurs, raconteurs and all round jolly good eggs.
High praise. Best known for?
Depends on your interests. Those of a Tory bent remember his ownership of The Spectator magazine. He bought it from his chum Henry Keswick in the 1980s before selling it on to the Telegraph group. Business types know him best for making a fortune in oil and mining. Something of a swashbuckler, by any definition.
Swashbuckler, eh? Why so?
Eschewing university, he had a stint in the Guards and the SAS, wrote dispatches for The Guardian in Vietnam, then worked in the plantation business in Malaysia. That earned him the cash to get into the oil game. He discovered the Buchan field in the North Sea in the 1970s, later selling his business to BP. More recently, he's set up three mining and resources companies, including Cluff Gold in 2003.
Why is he making the news now?
He's decided to step down as the chairman of Cluff Gold, which explores in West Africa and operates a mine in Burkina Faso.
So he's finally hanging up his boots, then?
Far from it. He's actually leaving to set up his fifth, as yet unnamed, venture.
Returning to the North Sea oil world. As he said yesterday: "My headmaster always said all the best things end up in the same place and I never knew what he meant. But I think I do now, since I find myself inclined to go back to the North Sea."
Sounds like he had a wise headmaster...
That's what you pay those high fees for at Stowe public school. Not that Cluff was inclined to stay in education any longer than he had to. As he once said: "If I'd gone to university it would have killed my restless spirit and without that the entrepreneur is nothing."
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