Even as a junior hack, it didn’t take long to work out that partners would sooner have their teeth pulled than submit to an interview. Funny how nothing changes.
A man who shares this distaste for the media is Greg Hutchings, the former Tomkins high-flier.
Speculation that Hutchings might be reinstated at the guns-to-buns conglomerate continues to swirl, however fanciful the idea might sound. For a start, reappointing him would avoid shelling out up to £5m in compensation.
Hutchings is a colourful character, no question. He ran Tomkins as a fiefdom, enjoying the jets, the limos, the parties.
But if the non-execs, the shareholders, the auditors, even, were willing to put up with it, then so what?
Tiny Rowland did much the same at Lonrho, yet won nothing but devotion from his army of shareholders.
There have been stranger comebacks. Gerald Ronson went to prison over the Guinness affair, yet emerged to rebuild Heron International into a huge force in property. Michael Milken, the Eighties junk bond king, is now a pillar of respectability, if bald as a coot.
There are worse things than having Hutchings back in the driving seat.
No company would be leaner on corporate excesses. The Denver-based Gates family, which effectively speaks for 20% in Tomkins, would like to have him back.
Will it happen? Hutchings might reflect on the case of Guy Snowden, the US lottery millionaire who was forced out of GTECH after receiving a drubbing at the hands of Sir Richard Branson. Snowden used some of his $15m pay-off to buy a share in a Citation X corporate jet.
It’s just not the same without the toys.
- Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times.
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