City People

NFC FACES a tricky problem. The international logistics group is in talks aimed at merging its US removals operations, which include Pickfords, with North American Van Lines.

The snag is that in America when people talk about the "removal man" they mean the undertaker who comes to your house to take the bodies away.

NFC has modified its language accordingly. A spokesman for NFC says that when talking to the Americans "we've called the removals business `moving services'".

Just to complete the confusion, the Americans call removal men "shippers".

NOT CONTENT with supplying us with new banking bosses (see Barclays), Canadians have seized the mantle of best tea-makers in London.

The tea industry watchdog, the Tea Council, said yesterday that the Canadian hotel management company Four Seasons Hotels had surpassed its rivals, the Savoy and the Ritz hotels, as "Top Tea Place of the Year".

Tasters visited London's top hotels incognito and judged them according to strict criteria including taste, ambience and crockery. The Four Seasons' price for afternoon tea is more in line with "Rip-off Britain", however, costing pounds 17-pounds 22 per person.

BRITISH NUCLEAR Fuels (BNFL), the state-owned nuclear group set for privatisation, has named Hugh Collum as its new chairman. John Battle, the Energy Minister said yesterday that Mr Collum will replace the present incumbent, Sir John Guinness on 1 October.

There has been quite a lot of turnover in the top ranks of BNFL in recent years. Its chief executive John Taylor was appointed in 1996.

Mr Collum, 59, is certainly a safe pair of hands. He qualified as an accountant and has been finance director at a whole clutch of FTSE 100 companies, including Courage, Cadbury Schweppes and SmithKline Beecham. He is currently chairman of Chiroscience and holds non executive directorships on the boards of Invensys, South African Breweries, Safeway and Whitehead Mann.

It's not all balance sheets for Mr Collum though, who relaxes at Boodles, the blue-blooded gentleman's club in St James's, as well as the MCC.

AT 34, Ian Harvey-Samuel feels he is already a senior citizen. The Singapore-based corporate lawyer says he has "aged considerably" over the last year due to his role as coordinator of the international rescue of one of Indonesia's biggest companies.

In common with many other British company rescue specialists, the young Freshfields partner has done well out of the financial turmoil in the Far East. He has led a team which has turned around PT Astra International, a giant company with over $1bn of debts.

Mr Harvey-Samuel has been in Singapore since 1994, originally with rival solicitors Allen & Overy. The A&O office building held another rather more famous occupant at that time - Nick Leeson of Barings fame. "He lived just 100 yards down the road - but I don't think I ever clapped eyes on him," says Mr Harvey-Samuel, wistfully.

As for company rescue work in Indonesia, Freshfields's order books are full with PT Astra-related work, he says: "There are another 17 restructurings to go".

PAUL PINDAR, chief executive of Capita, has run into unforeseen problems with his efforts to expand the outsourcing company's market, from local government to the private sector.

Capita now runs a call centre for the BBC in Belfast, and many of the callers' questions have been foxing staff, such as: "How do you tell the difference between Pinkie and Perkie?" and "Which of the Telly Tubbies is Po?" As a result Capita are to review the employment criteria for their people, says Mr Pindar. Telly addicts, get your CVs in now.

SWITCH, THE eponymous company that runs Britain's most popular debit card, has got a new chairman. Richard Spence, general manager of operations at HSBC, is taking over from Mike Hawkins of NatWest, who has completed his three-year stint.

Switch is owned by a consortium of 10 high street clearing banks. Mr Spence is on holiday at the moment, and the HSBC press office was unable to say much about him, other than he joined Midland Bank (now part of HSBC) in 1978, and that he loves sailing.

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