A firm grip on outer space

People and Business

PETER MANDELSON carries many responsibilities on his shoulders as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Not many people realise, however, that one of these duties is to licence, and maintain a register of, all "objects sent into Outer Space" by British citizens.

The Outer Space Act 1986 (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 1998 come into force at the end of the month, relating to a new range of fees that you will have to pay if you want to send your home-made rocket skyward into the heavens.

The Act applies to anyone in the UK "launching or procuring the launch of a space object; operating a space object; (and) any activity in outer space".

According to the Parliamentary Daily List announcing the amendment to the Act last week, "the Secretary of State shall maintain a register of space objects". Furthermore, no British subject shall send an object into outer space "except under the authority of a licence granted by the Secretary of State".

The List adds with admirable thoroughness that "outer space" includes the moon and other celestial bodies; and "space object" includes "the component parts of a space object, its launch vehicle and the components parts of that". I'm sure Mr Mandelson has got his celestial objects all firmly under control.

WHEN Mike Hannigan, an executive in the property development side of Standard Life's investment department, flew south from his Edinburgh base recently to supervise the opening of a new pounds 90m shopping centre in Brighton, the biggest problem on his mind was guano.

The Churchill Square centre, a prestigious development of 83 shops and restaurants, has a large glass roof, you see. As part of a sea-side resort, the Square is a natural target for seagull droppings.

Mr Hannigan said they solved this problem for the opening ceremony last week by employing a falconry centre. The centre brought along a number of birds of prey, Harris Hawks, to fly around and scare off any seagulls or pigeons

"We've used these in the past, and its solves the problems that these birds can create for glazed roofs", says Mr Hannigan. "The hawks have quite a long term impact. Quite a few football stadiums do the same thing. You bring the hawks along once every couple of months, and the pigeons learn to associate the place with them."

Falconry "may be 2,000 years old but it has withstood the test of time", he says happily.

JOHN AITKEN, one of the City's leading banking analysts, is suing his former employer, Union Bank of Switzerland, over a pounds 730,000 bonus which fell victim to the "merger" between SBC Warburg and the old UBS.

Mr Aitken joined Rabobank earlier this year after the merger, and became one of around 50 UBS analysts who were unwanted by the new bank.

In a writ issued at London's High Court he alleges that two years ago he agreed a bonus deal in writing with UBS worth pounds 730,000 in the first quarter of 1998 and another pounds 730,000 in 1999.

His writ claims that he got the first payment but that his former employers, now titled Warburg Dillon Read, refused to make the second payment following the merger.

Warburg acknowledge they have received Mr Aitken's writ, but are saying nothing else.

DON'T MENTION marble floors or gold-plated taps. The former president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Jacques de Larosiere, has been appointed adviser to the executive board of Paribas, the French financial holding group said.

Mr de Larosiere's term of office at the EBRD was, of course, well after the row about lavish spending on its London head office, the row which cost the then boss Jacques Attali his job. No doubt Mr de Larosiere's new offices in Paris will be suitably frugal.

MOST OF the people from Teather & Greenwood, the expanding private client stockbrokers, were at the Chiswell Street Brewery in the City yesterday for the annual "Smaller Companies Show". This is an opportunity for about 50 companies to exhibit and get to know each other. As a spokesman for the broker put it: "They are mostly clients, or where not, we live in hope."

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