City People

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IF YOU ever wanted a "buy" signal on UK PLC, just look at Ernst & Young. The accountancy giant has decided to shed eight of its insolvency specialists because not enough British companies are going bust.

In contrast, E&Y's insolvency experts are in huge demand in Asia, where the financial turmoil of the past two years has left hundreds of giant companies in need of their company rescue skills. Those at E&Y who haven't flown east are now concentrating on big ticket company rescue work in the UK - "turnarounds" - rather than burying companies.

The best-known partner leaving E&Y, Terry Carter, will be taking early retirement in September, while the seven others may move to other firms. They are Jason Elles in London, Graham Ritchie from the Edinburgh office, Jon Newell in Leeds, Don Bailey in Manchester, Kim Rayment in Birmingham, and John Readman in Glasgow and Cedric Clapp in Bristol.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which has by far the largest receivership practice in the UK, shed 80 insolvency jobs in April for similar reasons. Other "Big Five" accountancy firms are expected to follow suit.

Chancellor Gordon Brown's "soft landing" isn't good news for everyone.

DAVID TUNSTALL is leaving the ABN Amro property equity research team to join Deutsche Bank. Mr Tunstall, recently ranked second by finance directors in the Reuters surveyand ninth in the Extel ranking of fund managers, is replacing Ian Marcus, who departed Deutsche for CSFB a couple of weeks ago.

Mr Tunstall will report to David Church, who is in charge of Deutsche Bank's pan-European Real Estate equity research. Mr Church, who came sixth in the recent Extel survey, says he aims to market Mr Tunstall much more strongly to fund managers.

Mr Church says that he has been leading more or less the same property research team, first for NatWest, then Bankers' Trust when the Americans bought out the NatWest equities operation, and now for Deutsche Bank, which bought BT earlier this year.

Last October, while his team was still under the BT banner, Mr Church was forced to make two of his analysts redundant as part of a general slimming of the bank. Robin White has since popped up at Liberty International while Georgina Browning has re-emerged at Salomon Smith Barney.

That left Mr Church all on his own doing equity research on property until Deutsche Bank bought BT. Deutsche has huge property holdings but has never had a real-estate equities arm, unlike BT.

Mr Church is now rebuilding his team on a Pan-European basis. Maxence le Gouvello covers France and Borja Castro does Spain, while Chris Papachristophorou will write on Italy and Belgium.

MEHMET DALMAN, head of Commerzbank's global equities, has been building his operation rapidly in London. Now his business has become the first non Irish-based bank to join the Irish Stock Exchange.

This doesn't mean they will actually have an office in Dublin, however. Patrick Rarden, head of Irish equities at Commerzbank, will deal for institutional clients from London. But the connection with an exchange in "Euroland" is an important one, says Mr Rarden, as Commerzbank aims to make everything "pan-European" these days.

JOHN BARNES, senior VAT consultant at accountants Pannell Kerr Forster, is triumphant after giving the VATman a bloody nose.

Mr Barnes has just won a test case at a VAT tribunal which will save thousands of pounds for VAT-registered dispensing doctors who previously had to pay the tax on drugs and appliances which they bought to administer to patients. The tax was a particular burden on surgeries in rural areas where pharmacies are thin on the ground.

The tribunal accepted that doctors should be entitled to claim VAT back on drugs they administer such as travel and flu vaccines and on appliances such as contraceptive devices.

Mr Barnes said: "Customs got this badly wrong and have been given a hefty dose of their own medicine by the tribunal."