City People

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The Independent Online
Trouble at the highly respected London Economics consultancy group, amid deepening mystery over the abrupt departure of Sarah Hogg as chairman and chief commission pulling ambassador. LE was her main business interest outside an active life at the House of Lords.

The 53-year old Baroness, former head of John Major's policy unit and a former business editor of this very organ, has left "to pursue other interests in the Lords", LE said yesterday.

She is to be replaced by Frenchman Andre Safir, chairman of BSI, the French economic forecasting and consultancy group which is buying a 30 per cent stake in LE.

The consultancy - which describes its link with BSI as a "European tie- up which will help us develop in European markets" - is being more than a little secretive about the reasons behind its management changes, while Baroness Hogg herself was keeping a low profile yesterday.

However, word on the street is that Baroness Hogg's departure followed months of clashes with LE's former chairman and major shareholder, John Kay, over the euro (which Baroness Hogg is opposed to) and other matters. Eventually, the story goes, John Kay, now head of the Oxford Business School, and Nick Morris, another major shareholder, struck the deal with BSI over her head and without consultation. Friends predict that she will not be on the jobs market for long.

When Sir John Browne of BP tied the knot with his opposite number at Amoco they celebrated by dining at the Pont de la Tour, Sir Terence Conran's swish eaterie on the Thames patronised by the Blairs and the Clintons among others. Nothing quite so grand for John Bryant of British Steel and Fokko van Duyne of Hoogovens. Their pounds 3bn merger was hatched over supper in Port Talbot at a hostelry next to the local steelworks. Come to think of it, a perfect example of cost-consciousness to set for the 66,000 employees of the new company - or at least those who will still be in a job.

Just when you thought the long-running Scottish takeover saga between Cala and construction group Miller was finally over, a little postscript.

Later this week Gerry More, company secretary to luxury housebuilder Cala, is to chair a conference on the construction industry in Scotland. The keynote speaker? Step forward Miller supremo Keith Miller. And his subject matter? "How to realise the value of the business". The Institute of Chartered Accountants, organising the conference, admits that Miller's brief - to predict future trends from a personal point of view - is timely.

Culled from a leading City law firm's "cross cultural" training manual: While the British have a concentration span of around 35 minutes and like fairness and jokes the Germans can keep going for one hour and ten minutes, hate jokes and like lots of technological information. The Japanese particularly value politeness and a good suit and in common with the Germans concentrate for more than an hour. But it's the more unusual category - in geographical terms at least - which our newly qualified managers are likely to find the most challenging. The Mediterranean/Arabs have a short concentration span, respond best to rhetoric and are likely to bother you with extra questions after the presentation. Cultural stereotypes eat your heart out.

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