Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Action Man at the Top; Homes & Property

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Action Man at the Top; Homes & Property

Article excerpt

Byline: SMITA TALATI

ALISTAIR Gosling, 29, the man behind the Extreme Sports Channel, may not be drawing a salary but if he achieves his ambitions of going global, he is likely to become a very wealthy man. He is the chief operating officer and managing director of the Extreme Group, which he formed five years ago with three friends and [pound]17,000 in an office in Essex.

The group produces and distributes programmes on sport, travel, wildlife and technology. Its flagship is the Extreme Sports Channel, which broadcasts high-adrenalin pursuits such as heli-skiing in New Zealand, kite-surfing in Biarritz, mountain-biking and snowboarding to 17 European countries around the clock.

Extreme has offices in Essex, London, Amsterdam and California, and has been dubbed the MTV of the sports world. But in contrast to 99 per cent of start-ups, it has not sought money from investors.

There are unconfirmed rumours that the group may float next year, but for the moment it is fully owned by its management team. Alistair has an 87 per cent stake, making him worth [pound]50 million. He says: "At some point I'd like to start taking a proper salary; at the moment I just take living expenses."

Last year he took about [pound]35,000. He is focusing on launching the channel in Latin America, Asia and Australia. He would also like to start a channel in north America, and has three deals on the table.

Alistair has ploughed everything he has into his business and admits that he is exposing himself to financial risk by putting all his eggs in one basket.

He has a smattering of stocks and shares in what he hopes will be fast-growing companies, but no other outside investments. "I trust my own company more than other people's," he says. "The worst-case scenario is that its value will go down, but as I have no investors to pay back, I'd still be left with quite a substantial amount."

Alistair currently rents a onebed flat in Baron's Court, west London, and a cottage in Essex.

He pays a total of [pound]1,200 a month in rent but is not considering buying.

"With property comes responsibility," he says.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has not faced the issue of pension-planning either. "If I want to retire, I can sell off chunks of my company, or sell shares, but I haven't thought about that yet - I'm too busy."

One might expect a young media mogul to be living the high life, but aside from his passion for flying his Robin DR400 Jodel, and nipping to the South Coast for a surf, Alistair lives modestly. He banks with Barclays and always pays off his credit card bills at the end of the month. He likes buying the occasional CD and eating out, and spends no more than [pound]100 a month on clothes.

Pension SSAS Scheme Insurance policies Our financial expert's view Jim Boyle, director and actuary of financial advisers Berry, Birch and Noble, says: Alistair should take advice from his company auditors as to whether it would be more efficient for him to be renumerated through dividends or a salary. …

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