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The Independent Online
A "LOCAL" on Liffe, one of those traders in colourful blazers, has just rung me up in high dudgeon.

He is fuming that the futures exchange has spent a reputed pounds 38m on leasing and converting the London Stock Exchange's disused trading floor into an extra Liffe trading floor, only for the floor to be used for five-a- side football games.

On inquiring, I find that the footy matches were part of a mini-tournament held by Liffe in the Exchange tower in May to celebrate the launch of its new automated trading system, Liffe Connect.

This is doubly ironic, since it is this very system which will render my be-blazered friend obsolete.

The Liffe people tell me that the exchange floor, which was leased as a contingency just in case they needed an overflow from the Cannon Street premises, now stands empty.

Liffe is currently studying how to rationalise its many City offices, as it will house a fraction of the personnel it currently does once automation is completed.

Apparently the tournament was a great success, the Liffe person says.

Alan Hansen, the TV personality, presented the winner's prize to Liffe member, Fuji International. None of which comforts the man in the blazer.

SENIOR WHITEHALL mandarins may cost the taxpayer an extra pounds 160m - because they're worried about where to lunch.

The Home Office's decision to build new headquarters rather than refurbish its present concrete leviathan HQ at Queen Anne's Gate could be an expensive decision, according to the Contract Journal.

The Sir Humphreys moved into the giant block overlooking St James's Park in the Seventies. Godfrey Bradman , the property developer who built the Broadgate complex in the City, now wants to knock down the hideous Sixties block on Marsham Street which used to house the Department of Trade and Industry and rebuild it as the Home Office's new home.

The civil servants objected to having the Queen Anne's Gate building refurbished since this would have meant them moving all their stuff to another site and then back again. State secrets may have been left on the Tube, and so on.

But going for the Marsham Street option means they have to buy their way out of their existing lease with Land Securities.

A source close to the deal said: "The concern was that a double decant was too disruptive for Home Office officials who wouldn't know where to go for lunch.

"So instead of paying pounds 60m for the refurb of Queen Anne's Gate, they are now paying for a pounds 120m project and between pounds 70-100m to get out of its lease with Land Securities." Is this a waste of money?

Yes, Minister.

MARK SELIGMAN, who moved from SG Warburg to BZW five years ago, is now reaping his reward for subsequently integrating BZW's investment banking business into the arms of CSFB. He has just been promoted to a new role of deputy chairman of CSFB (Europe). This means he will be able to continue to service his most important UK clients, but will also be able to promote the bank's expansion into the lucrative Continental mergers and acquisitions market.

Mr Seligman's deputy, Richard Gillingwater, will succeed him as head of UK Investment Banking Coverage.Mr Seligman will continue to answer to CSFB's investment banking boss in Europe, John Nelson.

A DATGANIAD I'R WASG has just landed on my desk which talks about a clwb hiraeth. The Welsh speakers amongst you will realise I have just been sent a " press release" about a "friendship club".

David Powell, a former senior executive with Thomas Cook, has been hired by the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) to be its executive vice-president in Japan. Mr Powell has extensive experience in Japan, having been a senior executive with American Express there.

The WDA claims it has made a great success of its links with the country. There are 55 Japanese companies based in Wales which employ 16,000 people, including 2,000 Japanese. So fond of the principality are the Japanese executives who have worked at factories owned by Sony and Sharp that they have formed a clwb hiraeth to maintain links with Japan.

THE VETERAN sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnson had two reasons to break out the champagne yesterday.

Clipper Ventures, the Ofex yacht-racing company he set up in 1995, announced it is charting a course for the Alternative Investment Market while one of his prodigies, 25-year-old Alex Thomson, won the 34,000-mile Clipper 98-99 round-the-world race - becoming, in the process, the youngest skipper to win a fully-crewed, round-the world event.

Sir Robin, of course, was the first person to sail single-handed around the world non-stop, in 1968-69. "I took Alex to Greenland last year as my mate. I was just working out in my own mind whether he was mature enough to be a skipper and he was," Sir Robin said. "I had no doubts about his ability as a seaman. He's done a super job."

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