City People

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A SCOTTISH coordinator of the pressure group Save our Building Societies has written saying that when he read this column on Tuesday, "I nearly choked on my porridge".

The article which caused Bob Goodall to have such difficulties at breakfast concerned the Yorkshire Building Society's appointment of two new directors.

The Yorkshire said that it had to improve its media profile because the Bradford & Bingley was going to demutualise within the next 18 months, leaving it as Britain's third biggest society.

"Wrong!" says Mr Goodall. He points out that the carpetbaggers besieging the B&B still have to win the vote first. Since this involves 75 per cent of savers voting for demutualisation on a turnout of at least 50 per cent, the chances are that the B&B will not have to convert, he says.

But what really seems to goad Mr Goodall is the idea that the Yorkshire may be relishing in some way the prospect of becoming the third biggest society, without having had to grow in size itself.

He advises the Yorkshire people to read Tacitus, the Roman chronicler. "The Romans were pleased when some of their troublesome neighbours were overrun by the barbarians - `it gladdened Roman eyes,' we are told."

Mr Goodall concludes: "Unfortunately they were next on the list!!"

THE BRITISH Standards Institution (BSI) is on a roll. Fresh from awarding an international quality management award to Lukoil, Russia's largest oil company, the BSI has now awarded an environmental stamp of approval to the Laphroaig distillery in Scotland, the producer of one of the most distinctive whiskies in the world.

The Russian oil giant - the fourth-largest oil producer by volume, in the world - received the ISO 9002 quality management accolade for its procurement services, as well as import and export of goods.

And Laphroaig, which is Gaelic for "the beautiful hollow by the broad bay" (well that is what it says on the press release here) received its ISO 14001 gong for producing one of the world's best tipples at the same time as protecting the local environment.

No water in mine, thanks.

ONE OF the City's most successful and yet least known merchant bankers has joined the country's second largest industrial property company.

Peter Stone retired as deputy chairman of Close Brothers last year after 24 years at the bank. Yesterday he announced his appointment as a non- executive director of Saville Gordon Estates, a property group founded by John Saville in the West Midlands in the 1950s. Mr Saville retired in February. The company is now run by Roger Carey.

In the past two years, Mr Carey has turned the group away from retail property and concentrated on building it into the UK's second biggest industrial landlord. No doubt he would like to overtake his old employer, Slough Estates. With his expertise, including a directorship at GVA Grimley, Mr Carey may achieve his dream.

DR OONAGH McDONALD has flourished as a financial consultant since leaving Parliament and her Old Labour career behind in 1987. Until recently she was a director of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and this year produced a keynote piece of research on the future of pensions.

Now Dr McDonald has decided to turn from gamekeeper to poacher, by joining Scottish Provident as a non-executive director. Not that such an august body as Scottish Provident would ever indulge in poaching literally, of course.

Dr McDonald took her degree and PhD at the University of London and was elected MP for Thurrock in 1976, serving in the Treasury in the last Old Labour government of 1977-79. Last month she was also appointed by Patricia Hewitt MP to the committee of the Insurance Brokers Regulatory Council, a rump of the old licensing body for financial advisers.