A Villin brings some French charm to BZW

People & Business

Alors. Bill Harrison has hired Philippe Villin to head up BZW in France. Mr Villin, 42, is the archetypal Enarque, a graduate of the elite cole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), the college that grooms France's top businessmen, civil servants and politicians.

Enarques are reckoned to be the cleverest people in France, but recently that most traditional nation has grown disenchanted with them as a group, blaming them for various scandals such as the ballooning bad debts crisis at Credit Lyonnais.

Mr Villin is certainly versatile. He has spent 10 years as head of Le Figaro, the right-wing establishment newspaper. While there he directed both the editorial content of the paper and ran the business side of the company.

He has also spent time at the French Treasury and at France Telecom. It is obvious that Mr Harrison is hoping Mr Villin will open even the innermost of French doors to BZW. And he's probably right. Enarques are often hired for their connections alone, although this is obviously not the case with Mr Villin.

While at ENA Mr Villin came second in his year as an Inspecteur des Finances, which is not the same thing as a British inspector of taxes. Rather it denotes an elite class of the civil service, a sort of super auditor who will automatically move on to a top job in the Treasury or business.

A BZW spokeswoman finds Mr Villin "utterly, utterly charming".

I suspect, however, that he realises the days of the Enarques are numbered.

As early as 1984 he wrote a book whose ominous title, roughly translated, means The Waste of the Elites. Has Mr Harrison read it, I wonder?

So it's true, then. The Barclay brothers have bought Sunday Business. Andrew Neil, editor in chief of European Press Holdings, will build a new publication from scratch, since only the title and various assets were bought from the receivers. The price paid to receiver David Sapte of London law firm Begbies was "a nominal sum," or "very small", according to Bert Hardy, chief executive of European Press Holdings.

This really does mark the end of the line for the old paper, which was launched 18 months ago by Tom Rubython with much fanfare. It has gone through a hatful of owners and relaunches since. Mr Hardy insists the new paper will be a " greenfield site" with new staff, and without any of the old company's debts. What will happen to the surviving 25 journalists who worked for the old organ is anyone's guess.

The paper's offices in Cavendish Square, just off London's Oxford Street, are also nothing to do with the new regime, which will operate from the European's offices in the ITN building, in Gray's Inn Road.

Mr Neil will recruit 60 journalists who must be "reputable, responsible and authoritative", says Mr Hardy. There will be synergies between the new Sunday Business and the financial desks of the company's Scottish newspapers and The European.

Meanwhile, Mr Rubython is left in a bit of a pickle. He has offices for his own new business venture, an internet job service, in the old Sunday Business office in Cavendish Square. But he no longer owns the lease to the building and may have to leave. No doubt he will land on his feet.

David Bruce, founder of the Firkin pubs, has agreed to join the boards of breweries spread between Paris and Seattle via New York and Denver. Mr Bruce sold his brainchild for cash in 1988 to Allied Domecq. Since then Allied has grown the student-orientated Firkin chain to more than 100 pubs.

For the past four years he has been a director of Grosvenor Inns and one of its largest private shareholders. He was heavily involved in the Slug and Lettuce brand, which has grown to 19 bars.

Through his international brewery investment company, Brew Securities, he became a founding shareholder in the Paris Real Ale Brewery and has recently joined its board. The two breweries in Paris each produce studenty brews such as Parislytic and Inseine.

Over the pond in the USA micro-pubs are all the rage, bars where the beer is brewed in-house. Mr Bruce has invested in a number of spots such as the Brew Moon in Boston and the Wynkoop Brewery in Denver. He is on the board of the latter as well.

The trainspotters in the City are looking forward to next week when the Economist publishes its annual "Pocket World in Figures", a store of facts and figures guaranteed to clear a room in seconds.

Stun your friends with the news that the UK has the world's fifth-largest economy, though for GDP per head is ranked only 22nd. Impress colleagues by slipping into the conversation the fact that Serbia's average annual inflation for the years 1989-96 was 1,643,638 per cent.

Or how about this? The fastest-growing stock market over the decade from 1986 was Indonesia's. Its market capitalisation grew by 82,104 per cent. Now where's my broker's number ...

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power