City People

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NOT CONTENT with taking GEC off his hands, Lord Simpson is now relieving Lord Weinstock of his money as well.

The chief executive of the defence-turned-telecoms group recently won a pounds 300 wager with his predecessor on a race in which one of Lord Weinstock's nags, Cloudy Sky, was running.

Their interest in bloodstock does not extend to a shared view about the direction in which Lord Simpson is taking GEC. And, no, he has not consulted his predecessor on a new name for the new look GEC.

DAVID CROSSLAND, the chairman of Airtours, managed to pull his attention away from his currently lapsed pounds 852m bid for Airtours yesterday, and mused instead on the way the millennium has boosted sales of Airtours' winter holidays.

Mr Crossland has dubbed the best sellers over the New Year "The Three Cs": the Caribbean, the Canaries and Cruises.

Mr Crossland personally is looking further afield, to Australia, accommodation permitting.

He says: "I want to be able to look across at Sydney Opera House (from Sydney Harbour Bridge), and I think the Australians will do a tremendous firework display."

The travel chairman adds, with a glint in his eye: "They're such a liberal lot - it should be a hell of a party."

Lawyers are always keen to impress their corporate clients. But just how far will they go?

Nick Cooper is one of the senior in-house lawyers at Asda, which is currently in the throes of merger talks with retail rival Kingfisher. Mr Cooper has suggested that the company's outside advisers should help out on the shop floor to get a real taste of the business, according to Legal Week.

Who are Asda's legal advisers? Those most pukkah and pinstriped of City law firms, Slaughter and May. I can't wait to see Slaughter's senior partner, Giles Henderson, stacking the Asda shelves with baked beans.

BPB (the former British Plaster Board) had a go at shaking off its somewhat dusty image yesterday by giving analysts a quiz at its preliminary results meeting. Seeing as the company operates in 45 countries, it asked analysts to identify 12 flags. (I know, not exactly calculated to get the heart racing, but there we are.)

Anyway, the initiative backfired a bit as the winners were the house brokers ABN Amro, prompting cries of "Fix!" by the losers.

Howard Seymour, the analyst, and his salesman Harvey Robinson, both scored 10 out of 12. The problem countries were Latvia and Albania. The unabashed duo will collect a magnum of champagne.

PIERRE WALTER, chief executive of Credit Lyonnais Securities Europe (CLSE), has poached Neil Pidgeon from French rival Paribas to be his new head of Pan European Research.

Mr Walter said the investment bank had also added two new people to its instittutional equity sales team in New York, Jed Birch and David Basham, both from BT.Alex Brown.

Commenting on the recruitment of Mr Pidgeon, who himself instigated a hiring spree at Paribas, Mr Walter said: "Our research is of good quality but a little undersold."

Mr Pidgeon, 37, will be based in the City and will command a team of 100 analysts spread between Paris, London, Frankfurt, Lyon and Madrid.

Michael Green, the former ITN industrial correspondent, set off on his tandem with his wife Judy yesterday on a three-day cycle ride from Dulwich to Brussels, all in the name of charity.

The Greens and the rest are covering the 340km to raise money for the Royal British Legion. Each pound the riders raise will be matched by Camelot, the company that organises the National Lottery.

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