City People

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The Independent Online
"OF MICE and Merrills", or: "How the Square Mile needs a new Pied Piper of Hamelin".

The corporate finance boys at Merrill Lynch (who wish to remain anonymous) report that the long hot summer, combined with the false floors under their offices that allow for computer cabling and so on, have prompted an explosion in the rodent population at the investment bank's Ropemaker Place building.

The Merrills people are now so used to these sightings that whenever a mouse appears, the cry goes up: "Basil The Rat!" This is apparently a reference to an episode of the Fawlty Towers TV comedy classic, where Manuel names his pet rat (which he thinks "ees a hamster") after his boss, played of course by John Cleese.

Anyway, the Merrills mice feed on the food the dealmakers throw at the bins, but which narrowly misses. Obviously the practice of cricket-ball- throwing at our leading public schools is not what it was.

Please phone in with your own sightings of mice at the workplace, or any other pests, for that matter.

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LUFTHANSA has picked up the unfortunate tag "Latehansa" after some over- enthusiastic "de-layering" of staff left the German airline's flights frequently overdue. Teutonic efficiency seems to have evaporated altogether in July, when 40 per cent of all Lufthansa's international flights took off 15 or more minutes late.

Beleaguered Dr Christoph Klingenberg, in charge of "operational excellence" at the company, lamely claimed that all European airlines had seen the proportion of delayed flights climb steadily since February.

British Airways heartlessly poked fun by running ads showing a forlorn chauffeur waiting in vain for a non-arrival named Mr Weber. Jurgen Weber just happened to be the name of the chairman of Lufthansa.

On Wednesday Lufthansa finally unveiled what it called a punctuality offensive, involving time-keeping, taking on 99 extra staff and earmarking three aircraft as "punctuality planes".

Although it promised improvements before the end of the year, Lufthansa also claimed it could only have an influence on 13 per cent of delays. It also sternly warned passengers that its highly original new slogan "on time" would have to apply to them to.

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WESTLB PANMURE is starting a market-making and execution facility for European equities in London as part of its pursuit of all things pan-European .

Colin Grimwood, head of Customer Trading, has hired a trio of traders from Rabobank International as the basis for a new market-making group. They are Paul Deslandes and Michael Webb, both of whom spent many years at UBS, and Darrell Willoughby. They start next week.

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ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS used to be such boring outfits. Now they charge around poaching staff like a bunch of American junk-bond traders. KPMG Consulting has just nicked an e-commerce man from PA Consulting and a financial services expert from rival bean-counters PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Consultancy (how do they fit that one on their business cards?). Chris Read, who has 20 years' experience in IT, has been brought in from PA Consulting to be a principal consultant at KPMG's e-commerce group. And David Jarrett arrives from PwC to be a partner of the Financial Services Group.

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MANDARIN is definitely flavour of the month at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. The investment bank has strengthened its Asian sales desk in London by hiring two fluent Chinese speakers, Alan Kasket from Prudential Bache and Anthony Schindler from Indosuez WI Carr.

It's an interesting move, as the current bounce back by the Asian economies from last year's crisis is by no means securely bedded down. Messrs Kasket and Schindler will report to Rob Buller, director of Emerging Market Sales at DKB.

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