A charitable Exchange celebrates the Big Bang

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The Independent Online
City bigwigs gathered at the Stock Exchange on Wednesday night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of "Big Bang". John Kemp-Welch, the Stock Exchange chairman, played host to Jack Wrigglesworth, head of Liffe, and Angela Knight, the Treasury minister, who were among the 600 guests. The theme was "past, present and future" with actors and waitresses dressed in top hats and bowlers.

The highlight was a charity auction in aid of the Save the Children Fund. One thrill-seeker bid pounds 800 for a "Go Loopy" flight on Cadbury's Crunchie Flying Circus open-cockpit bi-plane.

Most extravagant was the pounds 1,400 paid by one romantic for an overnight stay at one of the new penthouses at Claridge's. These come complete with dedicated butler and pantry service, of course.

Jim Maxmin, the former chief executive of Laura Ashley, is worried that he is falling apart. "I woke up last week with this excruciating pain all down one side and I thought `Oh my God, what is this?'" Subsequent tests have revealed nothing more than a kidney stone, which is being dealt with in London before he flies back to the United States at the weekend. "I must be getting old," he mopes.

Pilling & Co, the Manchester-based private client stockbroker, is closing its London office. Word is that the reason is a long-running spat between the senior people in Manchester and the partner in the London office, Nigel Goodliffe.

Mr Goodliffe was tight-lipped on the subject yesterday, though he admitted that the broker had written to its clients informing them of the impending closure. "I've got no comment to make."

Ian McAllister, the chairman and managing director of Ford Motors in Great Britain, will have to pay special attention to the drink-driving laws with his latest appointment. He has been named non-executive director of Scottish & Newcastle, the brewing and pub group which produces high- octane brews such as Theakston's Old Peculier and Holsten Pils.

News drifts in of a fresh development in the row over Europe. The subject of heated debate this time is not the Euro-currency or the Euro-sausage, but the Euro-bottle. McBride, the detergents company, run by Mike Handley, has been working on just such a vessel in order to harmonise plastic bottles across the European Community.

What's the point, you might think. Well, the benefit to manufacturers such as McBride is that a standard size would be cheaper to produce than lots of different ones for each nation state.

The Italians, Spanish, French and Belgians are all mustard keen. But one country is dragging its feet. You've guessed it, good old Blighty.

Britain wants to retain the individuality of its plastic bottles and is standing firm against Euro-interference on the matter. There's nothing like fighting the big battles, is there?

Mark Slater, son of investment guru Jim Slater, is to try his hand at politics. Slater junior, who is only 27, is the prospective parliamentary candidate for Jimmy Goldsmith's Referendum Party in the London constituency in Battersea.

Asked to explain himself, Mr Slater said: "I think Europe is the single most important issue we face at the moment and none of the major parties is really addressing it properly."

Mr Slater, who runs Slater Investments using his father's techniques, reckons he has a chance to overturn the 4,800 majority of the incumbent MP, John Bowis.

"I wouldn't underestimate my chances," he says.

"Battersea is a fairly young constituency and the people there are pretty unimpressed with the government and politicians generally. I think they are open-minded."