A fat prize for the fastest in sport - and a fine for latecomers

People & Business

Green Flag, the NCP-owned roadside assistance company formerly known as National Breakdown, celebrated a quarter century of service this week with a sports promotion on the theme of speed.

The company will award pounds 5,000 each to the fastest goalscorer in the English and Scottish football leagues, the fastest try-scorer in club Rugby Union, the fastest 50 in any of the county cricket competitions and the fastest sprint performance in athletics during the coming seasons.

Green Flag launched the wheeze with champagne, Bangalore-brewed beer and biryanis at the Bombay Brasserie in South Kensington.

Following up their theme of prompt arrival, they offered needy journos, who were forced to attend the function far from their usual watering holes, pounds 10 if they arrived within 35 minutes of the start of the bash. This is the average time it takes Green Flag breakdown vans to get to stranded motorists, apparently. They also fined anyone more than an hour late pounds 10.

I am pleased to say that no fewer than nine of the 36 needy scribes who qualified for a free tenner promptly donated it to charity (including your own correspondent, of course). Another six latecomers agreed to be fined.

Iain Cheyne, the solicitor turned banker at Lloyds TSB who negotiated the rescue three years ago of Canary Wharf and the Jubilee Line extension, is swapping his corporate work for the top job at Lloyds' international banking division.

Mr Cheyne, whose steely eyed inquisitorial style conceals a dry wit, is currently general manager of corporate and institutional banking. His new job will still be dealing with lending to companies, this time in places such as Latin America and New Zealand.

He is also, for his sins, deputy chairman of Crestco, the automated share settlement system that has creaked into action over the last year.

In 1994 he got a CBE for his role leading the 11-strong banking consortium which rescued Canary Wharf, The Independent's home, from bankruptcy. He also played a key part in negotiating with the Government over who should pay what for the Jubilee Line extension, without which the Docklands development would remain a white elephant. The extension is due to open on time next year.

When not putting the banking world to rights, Mr Cheyne, 54, relaxes with his second love, archaeology. Each year he takes his trowel off to various classical sites in Greece. Perhaps he could kill two birds with one stone and open a branch there.

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned about inflationary pressures yesterday and all the stock markets in the world took a dive.

The sheer influence that Mr Greenspan wields is well charted in Back from the brink: The Greenspan years, a biography by Steven K Beckner to be published on 6 March.

The author himself has achieved notoriety in New York markets through "the Beckner Effect." Mr Beckner has close contacts with the Fed, including Mr Greenspan, so when he writes about the Fed's intentions on his Market News Service, the markets move.

In the book Mr Greenspan is portrayed as an intellectual who eats, breathes and dreams economics. He spends much of his time poring over obscure data about truck output prices in Des Moines and the like.

Heartening then, to learn that he once played saxophone professionally, with the Henry Jerome swing band in the 1940s.

British Chancellor Ken Clarke is also a keen jazz fan, and apparently regrets that he never got round to learning how to play the sax. In view of Mr Greenspan's startling ability to deliver low-inflationary growth, perhaps he should.

Philip Gibbs, the analyst specialising in merchant banks who has come top of the rankings more times than you could shake a stick at, is leaving BZW for Jupiter Asset Management.

Having spent the last six and a half years at BZW, he feels that "fund management suits my skills - and it's a growth industry. I'm sad to leave BZW."

John Duffield, the cardiganed eccentric who built Jupiter and sold it to Commerzbank, has kept his offices in Knightsbridge, so Mr Gibbs will have quite change of scene from the City when he moves in April.

Will he actually get his hands on managing funds? "I'll be advising on the financial sector. We hope to launch a financial trust at some stage," he said.

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