City People

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JIM COX, one of the City's most influential and best liked fund managers in recent years, is retiring early from Schroders Investment Management (SIM) due to ill health.

Still just 51, Mr Cox spent 13 years with Schroders and 17 years before that with Prudential - "and very happy years they've been," he says.

Mr Cox played a key role behind the scenes in several notable City takeover sagas. SIM controlled over 10 per cent of Argos when the discount stores group was bid for by GUS.

"We made our decision in favour of GUS on a Tuesday and told all our clients. But the news didn't leak until Friday - which surprised us not a little".

Mr Cox also controlled a chunk of GRE when it put itself up for auction, and 12 per cent of Asda, which is in the process of being bought by Kingfisher. At Asda the "eventual cash outcome will be very good for us", he says.

A fellow director at SIM, Philip Hardy, will take over the management of the Schroder UK Enterprise Fund, which Mr Cox launched soon after his arrival in 1987.

Mr Cox, who throughout his 30-year career defied City convention by sporting a beard, has simple plans for his retirement: "To relax and take things easier".

SIR MICHAEL PERRY, chairman of Centrica, found himself in a pickle on the BBC's "Today" programme yesterday morning concerning the company's acquisition of the AA.

The interviewer asked Sir Michael: "Are you a member of the AA?" The embarrassed chairman replied:" At the moment I'm a member of the RAC." He added hurriedly: "I'm going to change very soon."

CLUB SIRIUS is the first dating agency in the world to win an international quality management award from the British Standards Institution (BSI).

The BSI's ISO 9002 standard of good business management is more often sported by engineering firms and the like. But Club Sirius - "known for finding partners for high profile people" - is following in the footsteps of several other service businesses, including Crewe Cemetery and Chelsea Football Club, in applying for and winning the accolade.

BSI spokesman Steve Tyler adds that in order to ensure that Club Sirius maintains its standards, the BSI's auditors have regularly to attend its partner-finding events.

Does this presage BSI auditors finding true love, I ask? Certainly not, Mr Tyler sternly insists: "They're not there to socialise - just to see how effective and efficient the event is."

ANDY TAYLOR, chief executive of the Sanctuary Group, has had a hectic couple of weeks.

He helped organise the "Party in the Park" pop festival in Hyde Park over the weekend, and then presented Sanctuary's doubled half -yearly profits and future plans yesterday.

While the Hyde Park festival might have featured bands like the Pet Shop Boys, the future belongs to another, rather more primitive type of music, Mr Taylor believes: Heavy Metal. And he reckons Sanctuary, his intellectual property and management company, can make a packet out of it on the Internet.

"We're already getting 5.7 million hits a month on our `Iron Maiden' website, so we've decided to launch a site devoted to the whole of Heavy Metal," Mr Taylor enthuses.

Advertisers and sponsors will queue up to appear on the site, he believes. Oh dear. Pass the ear plugs ...

NM ROTHSCHILD didn't find it easy to communicate their annual results to the outside world yesterday. This wasn't because chairman Evelyn de Rothschild wanted to hush things up - quite the opposite. Rather it was because the phone system went down.

Said one exasperated Rothschild executive: "The lifeblood of our business is being able to talk to people on the telephone. As you can imagine there are a lot of very frustrated people."

Luckily Rothschilds was still able to announce their results - albeit by mobile phone.