Week Ending: Persistence pays off for Mike Driver & more

Week Ending: Persistence pays off for Mike Driver & more
Our sideways look at a week in business.

AS everyone knows, pulling together major deals, involves insight, tenacity and of course no little brass neck.

Entrepreneur turned corporate financier Mike Driver of Convex Capital has just earned his firm a £5m fee for selling a Birmingham e-cigarette business to Marlboro owner Philip Morris.

His year-long tactic was simple, and quite surprising, he recounts: “I knew this was a deal for them, but they would not speak to me. I think I sent more than 30 emails to different people there.

“In the end a guy rang from Switzerland to ask me to stop emailing him and his staff. He stressed that Philip Morris was not a buyer for an e-cigarettes business, and if it was, why would it engage with us?”

“This gave me an opening, and I told him why the deal was right. The guy paused, said ‘I’ll call you back’, which he did, and the next day we were off to Switzerland.”


MAX Steinberg has had a busy few months as the International Festival for Business has become his life.

So it’s understanding that his patience maybe wearing a little thin, particularly when he’s asked to pull rabbits – or more accurately 50 guests – out of a hat.

He said: “I have a day job at Vision, and a night job with IFB. We have created a framework with the festival, but we can’t do everything.

“The other week, a firm, which shall remain nameless, rang me and said: “Max, We need another 50 people for our event next week, can you help?’ At which point I took a deep breath and explained that, when I am there, I live at home with Mrs Steinberg, not 50 people, so no, I couldn’t help.”

It’s tough at the top, eh Max?


WHEN George Osborne gave his “Northern powerhouse” speech at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry a few weeks ago it felt like a significant moment.

Many figures from the North West and Yorkshire’s political elite were in the room, ready to hear all about the Government’s new-found commitment to economic development in the North.

Osborne said it was a cliche that the dice were unfairly loaded against the north, and that London had sucked up the nation’s economic life and talent.

I’m sure many in the room would have disagreed and have spent much of their working lives lobbying London for more support. But they weren’t about to disagree, because here was a chancellor giving some love. I’m sure he is genuine in his ambition to see the whole country thrive but it’s also clear that with an election looming he is telling a large part of the country what they want to hear.

The term “Northern powerhouse” was wheeled out in the Chancellor’s speech at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool yesterday, alongside the Government’s key pre-election term – “long term economic plan”. I’m sure we’ll be hearing it a lot more as the months roll by to next May.


ON a more serious note, Week Ending and TheBusinessDesk team sends its good wishes to Tim Bacon the leading light of the North West leisure sector, who is battling melanoma.

It is reassuring that he is under the care of The Christie Hospital, which continues to provide world-leading treatment.

Chin up Tim!, keep fighting.