City People

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A BRITISH journalist has put himself up for sale via the Internet. The giant American online auction house Ebay is selling what it describes as "a British Male", IT writer Ian Harris. The UK news site, AccountingWeb, says the price for "buying" Mr Harris was bid up from $5 at the beginning of the month to $105.19 by the middle of last week.

Then last Wednesday it appeared Ebay had withdrawn the web page on which the offer for Mr Harris appeared. Possibly the Americans were worried about being accused of slave trafficking.

According to another web site ( 990803-000011.html) Mr Harris described himself as "slightly used", with various careful owners, a limited artificial intelligence, the ability to buy drinks and use a wallet. All parts were accounted for.

But dialling up the Ebay address for Mr Harris's sale particulars myself yesterday ( eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140826995) I was greeted with the following rather disturbing message: "The item you requested is invalid or no longer in our database."

Mr Harris invalid? Surely not. Trying again, it got worse: "If this message persists, the item has expired and is no longer available."

I know it's the silly season. Even so, I sincerely hope Mr Harris is alive and well.


THE FORMER chairman of Barclays, Andrew Buxton (pictured), has got a new job, although possibly not as glamorous as the Goldman Sachs consultancy snapped up by his ex-Barclays' colleague Martin Taylor. Mr Buxton has been appointed an independent board director of United Bank of Kuwait.

The former Guards officer and scion of one of Barclays founding Quaker families has extensive knowledge of the Middle East, according to UBK.

Mr Buxton is still a member of the Court of the Bank of England and president of the British Bankers' Association. The BBA's big problem now is who they should ask to succeed him.


UMBRO, THE footy kit maker which sponsors the likes of Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and David Seaman, has signed up Mark Monaghan from rivals Reebok UK to be its chief financial officer.

Mr Monaghan will be re-united with his former boss at Reebok, Peter McGuigan, who joined Umbro in April as chief executive when it was bought by Doughty Hanson.


THE GOVERNMENT was about to unveil its sweeping reforms of Britain's bankruptcy laws last Wednesday, the same day as the eclipse. New Labour's plans to transform Britain into a mirror image of the US, where risk-taking entrepreneurs are allowed to go bust every now and then, were due to be unveiled by a DTI underling, probably Dr Kim Howells, Under-Secretary of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs. His boss Stephen Byers (pictured), the Trade Secretary, was due to go on holiday the day before, Tuesday.

It was not to be. Mr Byers had a rethink, and decided to postpone the announcement to early September so he can make the historic announcement himself. Pass the chianti.


MUTUALITY ISN'T dead yet, despite the best efforts of the carpetbaggers, according to the Yorkshire Building Society. The Yorkshire has appointed ITN's Dame Sue Tinson to a new non-executive position on its board to beef up its media profile as the calls for conversion continue.

A Yorkshire spokesman says: "When the Bradford & Bingley votes on demutualising in the next 18 months or so we will be left as the country's third biggest society. So we want a louder voice in the debate."

Also joining the Yorkshire's board is Kate Barker, chief economic adviser to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). She succeeds Janet Cohen, a privatisation specialist and director of Charterhouse, the merchant bank now owned by CCF.

Ms Cohen is the author of a number of highly acclaimed crime novels under the pen name "Janet Neel". She also wrote The Highest Bidder in 1992 under her own name, a sizzling romp set in the corporate finance parlours of the Square Mile.