City Diary

WHETHER THE millennium bug really will cause aeroplanes to fall from the sky and the end of Civilisation as we know it, at least one millennium- related problem has been solved: The Bank of England has taken special measures to ensure Britain has more than enough banknotes and coins to tide it over the extended millennium holiday.

Ian Plenderleith, The Bank's executive director for financial market operations, says the Bank has "been ensuring that we will have adequate banknotes to cover the needs of the public and a considerable mountain to spare."

He accepted that demand for hard cash, which always soars over the new year period, will be even higher this year, as the public is likely to horde lolly in fear of a cash-machine breakdown caused by the Y2K bug. Christmas Eve is forecast as the peak day for cash withdrawals.

In response, the Bank has stopped burning old pounds 20 notes for the moment and stepped up production of pounds 10 and pounds 20 notes to boost its stockpile.

GOOD TO see Sir Christopher Lewinton, executive chairman of TI Group, is running a tight ship. A colleague of mine was ringing around engineering analysts to get a feel for the City's current view of TI Group, in advance of a high-powered analysts' trip organised by the company to its US operations, leaving this week.

When the colleague rang highly rated analyst Sanjay Jha of Williams de Broe, however, Mr Jha was somewhat taken aback. He hadn't been told of the jolly, let alone been invited on it.

Mr Jha is also one of the few bears of TI shares, having penned many a sell note on the company. Good to see Sir Christopher keeping the whingers out.

STEPHEN YORKE is preening himself following Newcastle's 8-nil demolition of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. The former Warburgs forex analyst who left the City at the beginning of the year to set up his own online sports betting company "Sports Adviser", predicted Newcastle's victory last week. Now the company is basking in the approval of its subscription- paying punters.

So who made the right call? Step forward "The Professor", an academic who works for Sports Adviser and likes to remain shrouded in anonymity. Apparently he devotes the same computer modelling techniques to footy that City chartists and derivatives analysts do to securities. Perhaps he should give Mr Plenderleith a call.

IT'S REFRESHING to see that the traditional British stiff upper lip and savoir fair lives on, at least in Indonesia. British corporate lawyers working there are commendably unfazed by the current political upheavals, turmoil in East Timor and the "Baligate" banking scandal.

Elizabeth Knox of Clifford Chance, for instance, told The Lawyer magazine: "[Recent Events] have not made a huge amount of difference. As far as I know no work has been terminated."

Then there's Ian Harvey-Samuel of Freshfields: "It has actually got cleaner and calmer. And when you go there you wouldn't notice there is an economic recession."

Its left to Bill Jamieson of Norton Rose to sound a note of caution: "I think it's fair to say there has been a deterioration in the political climate, which is not good for business."

LAST WEEK I reported that Colin Bird, leading globe-trotting company rescue specialist with PricewaterhouseCoopers, had experienced an earthquake and a typhoon in the space of a single week while working in Japan.

It appears this is par for the course for our company rescue specialists. Murdoch McKillop of Arthur Andersen told me yesterday that he is currently splitting his time between sorting out the tangled finances of the Sultanate of Brunei and various corporations in South Korea. "We just had a typhoon in Korea - it wasn't too bad as it missed Seoul," he says nonchalantly.

WESTLB PANMURE has poached Helmut Schon from Merrill Lynch to be managing director and global head of its technology industry group. Mr Schon will report to Mark Ebert, head of Investment Banking. At Merrill Mr Schon was director of the telecommunications, media and technology group.

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