CURSE OF THE AWARD STRIKES DOWN ROK

HERE’S truly a shining example of that well-known Achilles heel among company directors – the curse of the award.

Garvis Snook, the chief executive of building maintenance firm Rok, yesterday shocked investors by placing the firm suddenly into administration – but it wasn’t all that long ago that he was hopping up to collect gleaming gongs for his work at the company on almost a monthly basis.

Three years ago, Snook won the chief executive of the year category at the Quoted Company Awards, after which the company proudly boasted on its website that “at the time [Snook] joined, the share price was 72p. The night he collected the award it was £9.18”. (Which baffles The Capitalist a little, since a quick look at the interactive graphs on that same company website shows that the highest point the stock price reached – in 2007 – only just touched £2.50. Either way, its last close was 18.5p.)

Not long after, Snook was back on the podium at the 2008 Ernst & Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year awards, scooping the top spot in the real estate and property services category.

“As a forward-thinking company we have adjusted our focus to reflect the changing market, which has created sustainable business for the 21st century,” he said.

“The recent launch of our new business stream, Rok Plumbing Heating and Electrical, is indicative of this approach…”

That’s the same plumbing and heating division, of course, which recently sparked a profit warning because of “serious failings in financial controls” – the only inkling investors had of anything going wrong at the firm.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Quote of the week, courtesy of Labour party leader Ed Miliband, who yesterday became a father for the second time.

“He is absolutely gorgeous,” Red Ed gushed to reporters outside the hospital. “He looks a bit like me…”

WINTER SUN
Here’s a reason to be cheerful about the situation in the Middle East – apparently, things in Iraq have improved to such an extent that tourism there is booming.

Never one to pass up such an opportunity, the insurance industry is hot on the heels of that little nugget. In pops an email from AAIB Insurance Brokers, touting its latest product – comprehensive travel insurance to Iraq from anywhere in the world, including the usual personal accident, emergency medical and lost baggage cover, as well as evacuation and repatriation expenses… and “essential war and terrorism provision”.

Pack your bags, folks.

CITY GOES POPPY MAD
Not long to go now until Remembrance Day, and an inspirational tale from Aon Insurance’s Ben Hancock, who’s responsible for getting City workers to dig deeper than ever before into their pockets for the cause.

Hancock left the army five years ago to join the City and, since then, has brought along his “old muckers” from the Forces for one day a year to help sell poppies in the area. Last year set a record of £60,000 in a day – but last Thursday, you, dear readers, positively excelled yourselves. Hancock tells me he was “blown away” by the generosity shown, smashing his target to raise £212,000 in a single day.

City A.M. proudly displays a poppy on its front page, and urges you to keep buying!