City People

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CHRIS EVANS, the fast-talking carrot-topped DJ and host of TFI Friday, made himself even more unpopular than usual yesterday at the Entrepreneur's Summit in London.

The British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) had spent 15 months arranging the conference, with Prime minister Tony Blair giving the keynote speech.

Mr Evans, the fledgling media entrepreneur, was due to attend a round table discussion chaired by BBC interviewer John Humphrys. But at the last minute Mr Evans cancelled.

Mr Humphrys was visibly furious. Addressing the massed ranks of venture capitalists, he declared: "There's a polite way and an impolite way to do this. The polite way would be to say that Chris Evans had phoned up and said something had come up."

Mr Humphrys continued that the truth of the matter was that at the very last minute Mr Evans phoned up and said that he was concerned about what contribution he could usefully make to the discussion.

Mr Humphrys pointed out that Mr Evans regularly puts people through the mill on his shows. Then the BBC man produced his trump card - another Chris Evans, this one the co-founder of Chiroscience and a host of other biotech companies: "We have another Chris Evans here - the real Chris Evans - the one with balls."

That really brought the house down. Then the Mr Evans "with balls" took up the running, saying he had a lot in common with his TV namesake.

"We both have red hair, we both drive the same Ferrari, and we've both been backed by APAX Ventures - but I'm not a big shouter like him."

A FIVE YEAR, pounds 25m publicity drive to encourage youngsters to go into engineering has been put on ice because no one is prepared to pay for it.

The Engineering Marketing Group (EMG) blames a "double whammy" of the harsh financial climate facing engineering companies, coupled with "the plethora of millennium-related initiatives and events that are now diverting both the attention and funds of potential investors into other directions".

The industry-wide body said it got a warm response to its campaign from more than 30 of the UK's biggest engineering companies, as well as the DTI. But they just wouldn't stump up enough cash.

A FORMER Schroders high flyer and one of the City's most experienced privatisation advisors, Gerry Grimstone, is joining Candover Investments as a non-executive director .

Mr Grimstone, 49, joined Schroders in 1986, having already been involved in more than 20 privatisations at the Treasury. He was vice chairman of Schroders' worldwide investment banking activities when he left the bank earlier this year.

EASDAQ, THE Brussels-based pan-European stock exchange for hi-tech start- ups, has been deprived of its preferred Internet domain name for the four years since the market's launch.

An unnamed Isle of Man firm had already registered the name when Easdaq was launched in 1996. This forced Easdaq, humiliatingly, to use the Belgian equivalent,, instead.

Finally, in the past fortnight, Easdaq coughed up "under pounds 10,000" to buy the preferred name.

A FORMER head of the policy unit at City regulator IMRO (now part of the Financial Services Authority), Vanessa Peters, started this week as Chambers Director of "Cloisters", a barristers' set in London which was heavily involved in dealing with the fallout from the Robert Maxwell affair and BCCI.

Ms Peters, who also helped to establish the Personal Investment Authority's Ombudsman Bureau, spends her spare time travelling the UK attending and organising Scrabble tournaments.