City People

Industrialists, MPs, members of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and journalists will tonight be making their way to Whitehall in London for "a cocktail reception to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the British guided weapons industry".

Considering events in the Balkans, that represents interesting timing, shall we say.

The bash will be hosted by John Weston, BAe's chief executive, Fabrice Bregier of Matra and Alan Garwood, deputy chief executive of Matra BAe Dynamics, the Anglo-French missiles joint venture which makes the guided weapons concerned.

Guests will be toasting the fact that it was 50 years ago today that the forerunner of British Aerospace's missile business started up, in specially built premises in Stevenage.

I trust the party will go with a bang.

A new London-based venture capital company called Catalyst is about to celebrate its first year in business with a party. Just one problem. Catalyst set the date for 26 May - which just happens to coincide with the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Once he realised his dreadful mistake earlier this month, Rod Schwartz of Catalyst wrote to UEFA saying they hadn't realised the coincidence: "We know it's a bit short notice but we'd be very grateful if you could postpone it [the match] until the following week."

Displaying a previously undetected sense of humour, Lennart Jonson, President of UEFA, wrote back to Mr Schwartz, regretting that they would be unable to do so: "We apologise for our oversight in not checking with you first before we arranged the date of the match."

Instead, the considerate Mr Jonson suggests that Catalyst should hire a television for the party. "That way your guests will not miss out and the rest of Europe will not be inconvenienced."

Jeremy Fenn is bowing out as managing director of Leeds Sporting, the owner of Leeds United, the football club he and fellow entrepreneur Chris Akers took over in 1996. Mr Fenn said yesterday that he intends to resign from the club at the end of July "to pursue wider ambitions".

Mr Akers left last year to build his online betting company Sports Internet Group, leaving Mr Fenn, originally finance director at Leeds, to take the helm.

Mr Fenn says that the task of turning the company's finances around has now been completed and a new management is needed to complete the redevelopment of the Elland Road Ground. Plans are afoot to build a new leisure complex and arena next to the football ground.

Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale will assume full executive responsibility for the club, with Allan Leighton, the chief executive of Asda, as non- executive deputy chairman. Mr Ridsdale also runs a separate private company, Tulchan Group, which owns Sock Shop.

My spies at Alliance & Leicester's palatial offices in London's Park Lane tell me of a new word the bank has coined for the painful cost-cutting which the proposed joint venture with Bank of Ireland will entail: "De- duplication".

The plan is for the two back-office systems of the respective banks to be de-duplicated, saving pounds 200m a year.

This reminds me of an American computer industry neologism for sacking people - "decruitment".

Let's hope the shareholders don't "de-vote" the deal.

The revolving doors are spinning fast at the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Out goes Fiona Fry, head of regulatory investigations at the FSA (and before that IMRO) for the past eight years, to join accountants KPMG.

Separately, up goes John Liver, who has been promoted from senior manager to head of the Investment Business Division. He is succeeding Roger Bright who is leaving the FSA at the end of the month to work for the Crown Estate.

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