MELLON’S ASIAN CV IS NO BARRIER TO NEW GIG

THE WELL-RESTED Lloyds boss António Horta-Osório is not the only City name making a new start this morning.

Today is also the first day for veteran fund manager Jim Mellon (right) as non-executive director of Aim-listed urological manufacturer Plethora. Chairman Bill Robinson tells me: “We look forward to [Mellon’s] input at the board with his considerable experience as a global investor.”

Mellon’s overseas experience is indeed “considerable”. As co-founder of the Hong Kong-listed Regent Pacific Group, the money manager ran into a little local difficulty with the South Korean prosecutor’s office, which issued an arrest warrant in his name in 2000 relating to his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to manipulate the share price of subsidiary Regent Securities.

There was more controversy in 2008, when the unfortunately named Bigsave Holdings, of which Mellon was a director, went into voluntary liquidation.

To lose one company may be regarded as a misfortune; to see a further five investment companies go under – including the Undervalued Assets Fund and the Greater China Fund Series III – looks like carelessness, even though they were again voluntary liquidations.

Not a CV that leaps out at you, perhaps – except Mellon, who says the share-fixing allegations are “without substance”, has the advantage of owning ten per cent of Plethora, and was “pivotal” in its latest financing round. A spokesperson for chief executive Ronald Openshaw told The Capitalist: “We have nothing but confidence in Jim’s abilities, and his reputation speaks for itself.”

PRINCE COAL
REMEMBER Richard Budge, the man nicknamed “King Coal” after buying most of the country’s coal pits in the 1990s post privatisation?

This morning, stockbroker Merchant Securities unveils his son Kurt “Prince Coal” Budge as its new head of mining research. The young(ish) pretender moves from Religare Capital Partners, following lengthy spells at Rio Tinto and UK Coal.

INSURANCE COVER
ON THE subject of new hires, Jonathan Oliver joins Prudential as director of group media relations at Prudential today, reporting to his former boss John Murray.

Top of the in-tray will be restoring the FTSE 100 insurer’s stock in the eyes of the City, after the much-criticised takeover of Asian rival AIA claimed the scalp of chairman Harvey McGrath, who leaves in May.

But then both men know all about how to manage troubled reputations in the press – the pair worked at Express Newspapers, where Murray hired Oliver for the first time, before Murray’s journey through Telewest, Powerscourt and the FSA, and Oliver’s rise to corporate PR firm TLG via the political editorship of the Sunday Times.