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City People

WHAT'S GOING on in the City? First dress-down Friday, and now Merrill Lynch has told staff that they can dress down every day of the week during summer. "It's at the discretion of individual units," the bank says, confirming that debt markets and equity markets have already adopted the casual dress policy.

Iain Chippendale, chief executive of Direct Line, is another gung-ho tie-hater. A fan of the open-neck, he hopes to extend the policy to all Direct Line's workers, every day. "People always want to wear casual clothes when we have training days on a Saturday because it helps them be relaxed and think creatively," he says. Where will it all end?


AS THE CITY quivered with fear last week at the sight of thousands of demonstrators against third world debt and capitalism, the protesters were joined by an unlikely ally. George Milling-Stanley, a leading light at the World Gold Council, is in the UK as part of a worldwide campaign against the West's attitude to the gold market.

His gripe? Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, is aggravating developing countries' problems by selling off billions of pounds worth of the UK's gold reserves. Gold-exporting developing countries will struggle to find a decent price, he says, defeating the object of reducing their debt. Wonder what the anarchists make of that?


SIR GEORGE MATHEWSON, the combative chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, is said to be revelling in his status as a north-of-the-border Braveheart. Especially now he has a vulnerable English prey in his sites, the leaderless Barclays Bank.

Hostile takeover or no, Barclays shareholders may be interested to know about RBS's tremendous organisation and management. This was fully in evidence as the Scottish bank held its summer party - in London of course, on board the Barracuda yacht on the Thames. Sadly, the fun-loving Scots, having decided to shut the bar no later than 10pm, then ordered 30 or so bemused bankers and their guests up 10 flights of stairs to the American Bar at the Savoy.

Such was the alarm caused by the invaders that a top-hatted groom and his newly wed bride promptly fled the bar, leaving a very distressed Italian waiter.

He urged the thirsty bankers to take a pew while the drinks were ordered, but took half an hour to return with the refreshments. Let's hope RBS's takeovers are more fun.


THE DIRECTORS of Celltech and Chiroscience seemed terribly happy, if lacking in imagination, when they announced their merger as, er, Celltech- Chiroscience last week. But convincing employees to sacrifice their independence may not be easy.

After addressing nervous staffers upon his return from a whirlwind tour of City investors, Chiroscience's outgoing chief executive, John Padfield, was asked: "Will the merger have any effect on summer events like the family fun-day?" Padfield's reassuring denial was followed by the social committee's admission that it had ordered hundreds of T-shirts for the big day, emblazoned with "Chiroscience into the New Millennium". Hadn't they been listening to Mr Padfield's predictions that the biotech sector was ripe for consolidation?


HAS Sir Neville Simms, the boss of Tarmac's newly christened Carillion construction business, succumbed to delusions of grandeur?

Analysts attending Tarmac's presentation on the demerger of Sir Neville's new distraction asked the great man why he was taking on the responsibilities of both chief executive and chairman. Never one for false modesty, Sir Neville happily informed them that "no one else has experience of running a plc". Goodness gracious. The market will surely crash once the news gets out.


NORTON ROSE, the pukka City law firm, took no chances on Friday as anarchists swept through the City. The firm has been victim to protesters disapproving of its success in advising capitalist clients before. Trapped insiders say employees were banned from going to lunch. Instead, one brave colleague nipped to the deli on their behalf. Whether this marks a general shift to centralised planning in the firm is unclear.


LESS TIMID was the response of a Dutch bank to Friday's action. Traders took delight in tossing photocopies of pounds 50 notes from the windows to disgusted anarchists below.

One member of the institution expressed surprise at such imaginative use of the copier. "Are you sure they didn't copy their bums?" she wondered.