Sir Donald Cruickshank: Banking expert who's always one step ahead of the pack

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The Independent Online

One might say that Sir Donald Cruickshank has come full circle. In 2000, well before we had heard terms such as credit crisis, Sir Donald authored a critically-acclaimed report for the Government into the banking sector which bemoaned the lack of competition in the industry. One result, he pointed out, was that entrepreneurial new businesses were often starved of affordable finance. A decade on, the banks face exactly the same criticisms, but now Sir Donald is helping breach the gap.

Yesterday, he emerged as one of several new investors in Audioboo, a hi-tech start-up that is exciting internet analysts. Dubbed "Twitter with noise", Audioboo allows users to leave spoken messages – or any other sound – for whoever accesses them. Sir Donald is staking his own money in Audioboo, though no one is saying how much, and will take a hands-on role in ensuring it makes a return: he has signed up as the business's new chairman.

Now 66, no one expected Sir Donald to slip quietly into retirement. His most recent role, as chairman of Qualcomm, the company behind the technology that makes 3G telecoms devices work, was the latest in a string of high-profile roles held over several decades.

They have included the director-general's post at Oftel, the telecoms regulator, the chairmanship of the London Stock Exchange, a stint running the NHS in Scotland and senior roles at Times Newspapers, Virgin Group and McKinsey & Co, the consultants' consultant. When the Government got worried about competition in banking, he was the man they turned to. Not that Sir Donald wasn't busy at the time, running, as he was, the action team preparing for the millennium bug.

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