Bunhill: Russia 'phones

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UNTIL recently, Rupert Galliers-Pratt was this country's leading pawnbroker. A scion of the Cayzer family, the unlikely Eton-educated Galliers-Pratt ran Harvey & Thompson, the only pledger to the poor on the stock market.

Then the chain was taken over and Galliers-Pratt became chairman of NWE, a Toronto company whose main asset was shares in a health company. These have now been disposed of, leaving Galliers-Pratt to pursue his latest venture: bringing Russia's telephones into the 1990s.

This week, thanks to Galliers-Pratt installing a new phone system, the residents of St Petersburg will be able to call the outside world without having to go via Moscow. 'We will go operational on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday,' says Galliers-Pratt, languidly.