MEDIA: HEADLINER; Testy ex-Mail man gets a kick out of launching his own title

LFN’s award-winning chief has realised his personal ambition.

LFN’s award-winning chief has realised his personal ambition.

It’s five o’clock on Sunday afternoon and Clive Wolman is on my phone.

The editor-in-chief of London Financial News, the new title for City

types, sounds a little surprised to have survived through the weekend.

It wasn’t an easy labour, he confides. Friday night was a bit of a

nightmare and there was not much sleep to be had. Still, the pain was

endured and a title was born. The issue of an idea conceived while

Wolman was working on the Financial Times during the Big Bang of 1986,

the London Financial News made its debut this week.

Described as ‘a Campaign for the City’ or ‘a cross between Hello! and

the Investors Chronicle’, LFN (cover price pounds 2, target circulation

20,000) is dedicated to the personalities and the firms that make up the

financial heart of the country.

The weekly title is designed to sit between the more generalist

Financial Times (which was interested in launching LFN itself, but was

told to pull back from the investment by its parent, Pearson) and niche

publications such as Institutional Investor. The readers, Wolman hopes,

will be ambitious professionals with a comfortable level of disposable


When I meet Mr Wolman, five days before the paper is due to hit the

streets, it is after a delightfully wet lunch at Associated Newspapers -

Wolman’s home until last year, when he gave up his post as City editor

on the Mail on Sunday. The contrast in settings could not have been


From Associated’s wood-panelled boardroom (transported from Fleet Street

to Kensington and rebuilt down to the smallest detail) - air heavy with

cigar smoke and money - to the back-alley make-do of LFN’s bolthole, all

sweat and stale coffee.

Mr Wolman, too, is not what I expected. He doesn’t look much like a

media magnate in the making. Crumpled and bemused, there’s no swagger

and bluster, just a quiet confidence and a hint of nerves. Those testy

terrier qualities which have earned the 39-year-old Wolman a reputation

as an award-winning journalist are in check.

For Wolman, LFN is the realisation of a personal ambition, an ambition

he credits his friend, Chris Anderson, for nurturing. Anderson, a pal

from university days, was the man who founded Future Publishing - ‘the

greatest magazine-launch machine in the UK’ - selling it nine years

later to Pearson for pounds 53 million. With friends like that, well,

why not set up your own publishing venture and ask them to invest? Which

is exactly what Wolman has done.

He says that he and Anderson share similar personality traits. ‘I

empathise with him and I could see that he was enjoying life more than

me. He was getting a real kick out of launching these magazines and I

thought I’d like to try that, too.’

But is Wolman also trying to keep up with the Andersons? ‘I don’t have

any ambitions to keep a yacht in the Caribbean, if that’s what you

mean,’ Wolman insists. ‘It’s not just about wanting to make money.’ It’s

just a buzz thing, he adds. ‘I’ve enjoyed myself more in these past few

months than I think I ever have before.’

As testament, he says that he hasn’t really lost his temper for ‘ages’.

Which is probably just as well, if ex-colleagues’ tales of warring

Wolman are anything to go by. ‘Clive’s not particularly pleasant to work

with,’ one former fellow journalist warns. ‘He’s obsessive and

completely mad.’

Wolman confesses that ‘it drives me mad, submitting to authority’, while

others say his authority drives them mad. ‘I liked him, but I’m glad I’m

not working for him any more,’ Keith Woolcock, a former journalist on

the Mail on Sunday and now an analyst at Merrill Lynch, admits. ‘He’s

got a ferocious temper and as a journalist he always went for the


Others bemoan Wolman’s abstemiousness and his inability to loosen up and

share a joke. Yet most retain a respect for the man. Wolman, it seems,

is a perfectionist, high standards and all that. People admire him. He

is also, some say, classic entrepreneur material - bright, hard working,

a bastard for the cause.

Wolman admits, however, to a sense of insecurity, which he says could

well be traced back to the death of his father when Wolman was a boy. ‘I

guess I’m always striving for more.’

The ‘more’, once LFN is up and running, could well be other new titles,

or the export of LFN to other financial centres abroad. Wolman may have

a way to go before he’s nipping at Chris Anderson’s heels, but then

everyone’s got to start somewhere.

The Wolman file

1978 Thomson Regional Newspapers, reporter

1980 Jerusalem Post, economic reporter

1982 Financial Times, company commentator

1983 FT, personal finance editor

1986 FT, securities industry correspondent

1989 Mail On Sunday, City editor

1996 London Financial News, editor-in-chief