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COLIN SHARMAN has unexpectedly quit as head of KPMG, the world's third largest accountancy firm, in order to devote his energies to the Lib Dem cause in the House of Lords.

Mr Sharman was made a working peer for his old friend Paddy Ashdown's party two weeks ago. Now Mr Sharman, 56, will swap jetting around KPMG's offices in 150 countries for a more sedate life in the Upper Chamber.

Lord Rodgers, the leader of the Lib Dems in the Lords, is looking forward to utilising Mr Sharman's financial experience and contacts. For the past eight years or so Mr Sharman has advised Mr Ashdown on business matters and has introduced him to leading businessmen.

The Lib Dems are also keen to get Mr Sharman into the firing line because of his staunchly pro-European views. He is currently Treasurer of the business pressure group "Britain in Europe".

Mr Sharman has spent the past 33 years with KPMG, 26 of those as a partner, and he will continue to advise the firm. He is replaced as chairman by an American, Steve Butler.

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When City dealmakers talk about getting a small percentage of the profits from a deal, they call it "salami slicing".

Things have moved on. Yesterday a banker was moaning to me about the thinness of the slice he got from a recent piece of business. "Forget salami, this was carpaccio."

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ING Barings has poached Dresdner Kleinwort Benson's finance director to be its new chief financial officer, part of a reshuffle that was started last year to improve performance.

Stephen Jack replaces John Thirwell, who left in April. He will join the Dutch-owned investment bank on 6 September. Mr Jack, 41, will report to chief executive officer David Robins.

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GILLIAN SHEPHARD, the former Tory education secretary, has joined the board of the Coventry Building Society. Ms Shephard declares that the Coventry "has demonstrated that building society status can deliver real competitive advantage to members."

Not according to her former Cabinet colleague John Redwood, who last year joined a company dedicated to demutualising building societies.

The MP for Wokingham and former shadow trade and industry spokesman became a director of Murray Financial, the Edinburgh-based carpetbagging company which listed on AIM a year ago.

Perhaps Mr Redwood will end up carpetbagging Mrs Shephard. Now there's a thought.

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NATWEST Stockbrokers and Barclays Stockbrokers are great rivals.

One can only imagine the anguish at NatWest therefore, when they came bottom in a charity stockmarket competition on Wednesday evening. Out of 20 City teams competing, Barclays came fifth.

Not that Justin Urquhart Stewart, head of Barclays Stockbrokers, was crowing about Nat-West's dismal performance at the Stock Market Challenge, organised on behalf of the National Deaf Childrens' Society.

Referring to Jeremy Batstone, head of NatWest Stockbrokers, the Barclays man said: "I thought - `there but for the grace of God go I'."

The teams were given a theoretical pounds 30,000 each and did five days' worth of trading during the evening. NatWest ended up with a loss of pounds 400 - in contrast to the overall winners, Abbey National, who had a portfolio worth pounds 147,900 at the close.

A team from Guinness World Records came second and Chase Manhattan came third, while ProShare came sixth.

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DAVID STAPLES, chief executive of Amey, was pleased as punch to announce the acquisition yesterday of Comax, a business services company which does all sorts of cloak and dagger work for the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Staples' mood changed to derision, however, when he was asked whether Amey would consider a bid for Jarvis, the troubled construction company.

Mr Staples replied: "I've got two perfectly good feet. Why would I want to shoot either of them?"

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