City People

LORD HURD, the former Foreign Secretary, has gathered a clutch of the City's most venerable figures to sit on a new advisory board for Hawkpoint Partners, the corporate finance boutique which emerged from the old NatWest Markets last year.

Hawkpoint was created from the combination of JO Hambro Magan and NatWest Markets Corporate Finance, when the parent bank finally abandoned hopes of building a global investment bank.

NatWest still owns 100 per cent of the equity, but the Hawkpoint people get at least 50 per cent of the profits.

Since its launch 16 months ago, the boutique has become the leading adviser on takingpublic companies private - the Candover acquisition of Hall Engineering for pounds 135m was a recent example.

Now it wants the nine-strong advisory board to "open doors to European corporates", says Patrick Wilson, a managing director at Hawkpoint.

The board includes Sir Michael Richardson, formerly of Rothschilds and Smith New Court, Donald Macpherson, formerly of Fielding Newson Smith, Sir Christopher Benson, chairman of Albright & Wilson, and Derek Bonham, who was formerly the head of Hanson.

Hawkpoint - the firm chose the name to suggest "sharp and focused" - is led by chief executive Alton Irby, a cousin of Charles Irby, another corporate financier, who is about to retire from Barings.

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SPEAKING OF senior corporate financiers, Derek Netherton retired from Schroders after 26 years in 1996, and since then has taken a number of non-executive directorships, including Next and St James's Place Capital.

Yesterday Mr Netherton joined Hiscox, a Lloyd's underwriting company, in the same capacity.

He says he met Robert Hiscox, who runs the group, a few years ago, but cautions: "I'm not sure as yet I have any total understanding of the insurance industry." This despite once having been an insurance analyst in the "dim and distant past".

As for retirement, Mr Netherton admits that he does the two usual things, cultivating roses and working on the golf handicap. However, following a fall a couple of weeks ago, "both the roses and the handicap are the worse for wear," he laughs.

u

ALEX TUDOR, the 21-year-old cricketer whose 99 not out against New Zealand last Saturday brought such relief to England's victory-starved fans, is the beneficiary of a novel sponsorship scheme by the accountants KPMG.

A spokesman for the beancounters says proudly: "We have a long association with Mr Tudor's county, Surrey, and we decided last year to sponsor one of their promising young players - and we picked him."

As for the fact that as a bowler Mr Tudor is unlikely to get another chance to score a century, John Battersby, a tax partner at KPMG, offers some novel words of comfort.

"The advantage of working for an accountancy firm is that you can easily turn 99 into 100 as the difference is not material in accounting terms."

So that's it, then. Tim Henman should've been sponsored by PricewaterhouseCooper...

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TALKING OF cricket, the Securities Institute is gearing up for this year's Financial Ashes on 15 July, held between teams of English, Australian and South African brokers drawn from the Square Mile.

It reminds me of the time about five years ago when the Securities Institute faced a crisis at the event: the beer tent ran out of lager.

Diplomatic relations with the Australian contingent plunged to a new low.

Happily under chief executive Geoffrey Turner the lager supplies have held up in more recent years and antipodean relations have improved. No doubt the Honourable Artillery Company ground will be awash with the amber nectar next week.

u

ONE OF the world's largest fund managers, State Street, began life in the US on State Street, a thoroughfare which had been named King Street until the American Revolution. Coincidentally, when moving into the UK, State Street wound up again at King Street, this time in London. When casting around for a name for their emerging markets subsidiary which, moreover, was headed by Ken King, State Street plumped logically for "King Street Advisers".

Unfortunately, it discovered that a company in the US was already called this. The two businesses agreed to a compromise, with the State Street subsidiary being renamed Rexiter Capital Management. Rexiter is, of course, the Latin for State Street.

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