CITY DIARY

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The Independent Online
Sir George Blunden could not have chosen a better time to come out of retirement. As deputy governor of the Bank of England he was noted for the calm way he steered the City through the fringe banks' liquidity crisis in 1974. He was later called out of retirement to improve the Bank's image after the Johnson Matthey fiasco.

At the age of 72 he is now back in action as chairman of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, a City think-tank. A founding chairman of the Basle group, which established many of the regulations concerning banking supervision and derivatives trading, he is well-placed to sponsor a lively debate which, following the Barings disaster, may include some criticism of the Bank's on-site auditing resources.

Mike Hennessy, the energetic chief executive of Kalon, denies that yesterday's merger of his paints company with a French competitor has anything to do with his love of France and the location of his recently acquired chateau near Marseilles. "I promise, the house is nowhere near any of the French factories," he assures me.

Confusion reigns over the identity of the foreign statesman who called Barings one of the greatest powers in Europe. It was not Cardinal Richelieu (1766-1822), the cleric who rebuilt Louis XIII's France after the Wars of Religion, as some papers suggest. The cardinal died 120 years before Barings was founded. The correct source for the quote is Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu (pictured above), whose diplomacy and friendship with the Tsar helped persuade the Allies to leave France after the Congress of Aix-la-Chappelle (1818). He seems a much more suitable admirer for the toffs' bank.

At Christies on Monday the 400 clients of Branston and Gothard were lining up for a champagne booze-up and a chance to have their possessions valued by antiques specialists. There were few surprises at the event, which was organised to raise money for the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund. However, Edward Edgecombe, senior partner, was looking unusually downcast. He had given his senior fund mangers £50,000 to play with, the proceeds going to charity. The team performed brilliantly and the two-month profit was £38,103. Edgecombe was disappointed because his chosen stock, Canadian Pizza, lost money. "I ended up writing a cheque for £70," he told me, miserably.

Cazenove & Company, the blue-blooded brokers famous for laced shoes and potato jackets, has made an unusual addition to its list of 65 partners. May Tan is the 38-year old head of the firm's Hong Kong office. She was educated in Malaysia and graduated from Sheffield University in economics.

After qualifying as an acountant at Price Waterhouse she joined Thomson North Sea and then Cazenove. Fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, she is responsible for offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. However, she is not the first partner to hail from overseas, says a spokesman for Cazenove. "We have had Thomas Schock, a Swiss man, on board for more than 20 years," he said indignantly.

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