City People

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The Independent Online
RATCATCHERS and scrap metal merchants are ten times more reliable as credit risks than are accountants and lawyers.

Forgive me if you knew this already, but these were the conclusions of a recent study by ICC Information, a business data company, which holds the credit records of 2.1 million British businesses on its files.

ICC's deputy managing director, Angela Burdett, says: "Relatively few accountants and solicitors score the lowest credit ratings [6.06 per cent for accountants and 6.36 per cent for solicitors].

"However, the accountancy and legal professions might reflect on the fact that their clients are at less risk doing business with scrap metal merchants or rat catchers - where the proportion of businesses in the worst 10 per cent is ten times lower than the two professions."

OFTEL, THE telecoms regulator, has created a loophole which has allowed sex chat lines to defeat the entire logic of the latest highly disruptive change to telephone number codes.

The latest changes mean that premium rate numbers were moved into the 09 number range, free and local call rate numbers into the 08, and mobile numbers into the 07. Oftel justified all this by saying that it would help identify call tariffs by the caller.

Improcom, a firm that helps firms monitor telephone usage by staff, says Oftel has in fact reserved a block of 1,000 numbers in the 0171 range for live telephone services, some of which are already being used as sex lines. This will make it more difficult, not less, for firms to track down employees who ring such numbers, according to Improcom consultant, Keith Hobbs.

THE STORY that appeared in yesterday's "City People" column about two of Bankers Trust's real estate team defecting to rivals CSFB did not amuse some chaps in BT's new parent, sorry, merger partner, Deutsche Bank.

They pointed out that "only" two of the team, Ian Marcus and Gary Wilder, succumbed to CSFB's blandishments, leaving Deutsche comparatively unscathed.

The Deutsche boys are still smarting from last year's mega raid by CSFB, when the Swiss lured Ralph Quattrone and his entire Silicon Valley IPO team away from Deutsche. "It ended up costing CSFB $1bn. Nobody makes money out of Ralph Quattrone except Ralph Quattrone," said one source.

And CSFB's raid on Deutsche's global healthcare team at the end of June was nothing to write home about, our teutonic Deep Throat adds. "They [CSFB] took over a whole floor of a hotel in Baltimore and started writing out cheques. They got 20 of our people, but most of those were analysts with one year's experience, administrators and secretaries. Our star analysts and investment bankers stayed."

More than 70 of Deutsche's best healthcare talent remain with the bank, the source added. And taking one final tilt at CSFB's poaching prowess, the unnameable one said: "CSFB couldn't hit a barn door with a blunderbuss."

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