Few tears as British Linen shuts Scots office

By Ian Fraser

The Sunday Times

January 6th, 2008

British Linen Bank's former head office at 38-39 St Andrew Square

A CORPORATE finance practice that was launched with some fanfare and whose backers included some of Scotland’s most high-profile businesspeople, such as Norman Murray, chairman of Cairn Energy, has closed for business in Scotland.

British Linen Advisers, a management buyout of the rump of the old British Linen Bank from the Bank of Scotland, was launched in February 2000. It has advised on deals including the £300m sale of Glenmorangie to LVMH, Ukio Banko’s acquisition of Heart of Midlothian football club and the takeover of furniture retailer Harveys by Homestyle.

The firm has shrunk to a shadow of its former self, however, after an exodus of talent in recent years. It now retains just four people, including the sole remaining director, Richard Davies, in its London office.

The departed include Mary Campbell, who set up her own Edinburgh-based advisory boutique Blas, Ed Murray, now a non-executive director at law firm Turcan Connell, and Robert Fraser, now with accountants Saffery Champness. Miriam Greenwood, Andrew Watson and Andrew Coull moved en masse to investment bank Quayle Munro.

London-based directors who have quit British Linen Advisers include John Wilkes and John Wilford.

The management buyout in 2000 was backed by high-profile members of the financial establishment including Murray, now a non-executive director of Greene King and Robert Wiseman Dairies in addition to his Cairn role, and Lesley Knox, who is chairwoman of Alliance Trust and a non-executive director of HMV, MFI and Hays. Along with Sir Harry Solomons, the pair stepped down from non-executive roles with British Linen Advisers about three years ago.

Mary Campbell said: “They were a very nice team of people and individually very capable.” She said one reason the business had died in Scotland was that “individually they were very gifted, but collectively it didn’t work.”

The predecessor company, the British Linen Company, was mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novels Kidnapped and Catriona.

This article was published on page three of The Sunday Times Scotland on January 6th, 2008

Short URL: https://www.ianfraser.org/?p=393

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