City Diary: Pensions Board bikers in power struggle

Try as I might I cannot imagine that sitting on the Occupational Pensions Board (OPB), though worthy, can provide much excitement. In the middle of advising the Government on pensions issues, two members of the OPB have formed an unlikely rivalry.

On the one hand there is Robin "Chopper" Ellison, a partner of law firm Hammond Suddards, who commutes to the City from Hamstead on his powerful motorbike, a maroon Honda ST 1100 Pan European. Coming in fast from Cambridge is Martin "Ton Up" Slack of consulting actuaries Lane Clark & Peacock, who sports a BMW K1100 SE.

Mr Slack lets himself down slightly in the "Easy Rider" stakes, however - his bike is an actuarial grey.

The air is thick with mortar boards and flapping gowns as industry heads return to their business schools to collect a shower of honorary gongs. First off the mark today is Terry Leahy, the man set to succeed Sir Ian MacLaurin at the helm of Tesco next year.

Mr Leahy returns to UMIST's Manchester School of Management to receive the first Alumnus of the Year Award. Tomorrow it's the London Business School's turn, as 400 masters' graduates pick up their scrolls alongside Honorary Fellows Sir Richard Greenbury, chairman and chief executive of Marks & Spencer and Sir Colin Marshall, chairman of British Airways.

One of the LBS's Honorary Fellows from last year, Tim Parker of C&J Clark, will not be attending. Presumably he is too busy overseeing the redundancies of 1,400 employees.

Another of last year's recipients, Martin Sorrell of WPP, is also unable to attend despite being a Governor of the LBS. Mr Sorrell has missed his chance to discuss his massive incentive scheme with Sir Richard Greenbury.

A key to the executive loo has traditionally been proof that you've made it. Bravo, then, to Ray Milne, newly appointed director of corporate pensions at Guardian Financial Services, the life and pensions arm of GRE.

The baby-faced Mr Milne, at 36 Britain's youngest qualified actuary, found a magnificent suite of antique loos on the executive floor of his new offices in St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh. One loo had a plate on the front marked "Superintendent" while the other was marked "Management".

Mr Milne soon learned that minions were barred from these conveniences, and that any female visitors had to wait while a male colleague nipped in to one of the loos to make sure the coast was clear. Exasperated by such customs, Mr Milne demanded that the plates be removed and the loos opened to all.

Now no one gets caught short on the first floor.

Richard Lambert, editor of the FT, spoke at the British Chambers of Commerce Conference in Birmingham yesterday. Strangely, there were no FT journalists to cover the event. No doubt Mr Lambert will be reporting himself on his own fine speech. No such doubts with another lecturer, Will Hutton, the Observer's editor, whose subject was "What economic policy for British business?" An Observer reporter was standing by to cover the great event.

Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, has the perfect opportunity tonight to start rebuilding Anglo-German relations after the fearful battering they got from the tabloids during Euro 96. Hezza will deliver a speech and a toast at the German-British Chamber of Industry & Commerce in Whitehall, following a concert by the London Handel Orchestra and before a Gala Dinner. There will also be a speech by Jurgen Schrempp, chairman of Daimler-Benz, and a vote of thanks by the Chamber's chairman, Jurgen Gehrels. Jurgen Klinsmann will not be attending.

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