City People

OOPS-A-DAISY. Sir Dick Evans has been forced to abort today's launch of Vertical Take-Off, his inside account of how British Aerospace came back from the brink. The BAe chairman has evidently apologised profusely to the publishers, Nicholas Brealey, but he has a pressing engagement with his chief executive, John Weston, that he simply cannot miss. A spokesman says enigmatically that the meeting is "important but not critical". Nor is it anything to do with the BAe-Marconi merger, he hastens to add.

For those keen to get their autographed copy, Sir Dick is still scheduled to appear at next Tuesday's launch in Manchester. For those who can't wait that long, here are a selection of chapter headings: "The Value Teams Go To Work", "High Integrity Implementation", "The Power Train Delivers". Sounds like gripping stuff...

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THE CAPITAL'S trendier companies are tipped to walk away with the prizes at tonight's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in London. The winners, I am told, will include Mark Dixon, the serviced offices guru who recently completed a pounds 1bn flotation of his business. Philippe Signolet, the man who brought you Delice de France and Michael Gooley of Trailfinders, the backpackers first-priority destination, are also expected to be rewarded. But just to show that those who've been around for a while can still pack a punch, John Ritblat, British Land's legendary leader, is also expected to go home smiling .

u

IN THE wake of the Coca-Cola contamination scandal, Virgin has run hundreds of ads on French radio stations where a concerned voice inquires: "All right? Sure you're all right? What's that you're drinking? Virgin Cola. Virgin Cola's all right." At Pepsi, which has an 80 per cent share of the French market compared with Virgin's paltry 1.8 per cent, an e-mail has gone out telling staff not to exploit the situation. Pepsi's reaction comes from the bitter experience of an unsubstantiated scare in the US which threatened the brand. The bearded one could be well advised to learn from Pepsi's restraint.

u

ANOTHER SET of musical chairs as Kleinworts poaches four new pharma analysts from ABN Amro to swell its team to eight. The recruits are Anthony Colletta, who will be sector co-ordinator, while Mark Brewer, Tim Franklin and Melissa Hartley will cover both UK and European pharmaceuticals.

u

IT'S BACK to the PR drawing board for Bill Morris, general secretary of the T&G, the UK's largest trade union. Facing an inquisition from the Commons Treasury Committee in his role as Bank of England non-executive director, Mr Morris was surprised to be pulled up for not making more noise in the media. Dr Vincent Cable MP asked why he, fellow director and senior industrialist Sir David Lees and Sheila McKechnie, director of the Consumers' Association, had taken such a low profile as Bank directors when they could have been making a splash about, say, the impact of the strong pound on industry, jobs and consumers. Mr Morris, who is seldom out of the newspapers, replied: "I really did not know I had a low profile. I must do something about that." But just in case other T&G bosses get any silly ideas about rushing off to the Press with their views on the latest policy, Mr Morris put them straight. "That would be hell," he said sagely.

u

EXPECT TO see a more cheerful Bill Morris tonight when he hosts an unusually lively party at the Bank of England, to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Family Welfare Association. Apparently caricaturists will be on hand to pen poison portraits as Gordon Brown, Eddie George and former Conservative foreign secretary Douglas Hurd rub shoulders with the rest of the crowd bopping to a steel band. Helen Dent, the FWA's chief , says: "We were set up by the likes of Gladstone... and Beatrice Webb to cope with the acute poverty of the mid-Victorian era. The reception at the Bank of England reflects a continued broad range of social and political support for our work which will enable us to tackle the all-too-similar challenges of the 21st century." Quite so.

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