City People

HECTOR SANTS announced another slew of signings to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette's pan-European equities operation at the weekend, taking the division's headcount to more than 300. When the former UBS man joined DLJ last September as global head of international equities the American investment bank had a fraction of that, and just 15 months ago none at all.

But the break-neck pace of DLJ's expansion in European equities will not mean a dilution of DLJ's culture, Mr Sants insists. This is a tricky subject; other investment banks (think of Deutsche Bank after it bought Morgan Grenfell) have stumbled when hiring large numbers of people from rivals. "It's a major challenge", Mr Sants admits.

The latest hiring spree started with Christophe Adam and Claire Monard, who will join DLJ's Paris office from Credit Commercial de France and Caisse des Depots et Consignations respectively. DLJ's Frankfurt office is getting Gunnar Janssen from CSFB, who will join Reto Bodenmann who came from JP Morgan in May.

The London base has also been beefed up, with Pierre Iseux from BT.Alex Brown, Michael Murphy from Merrill Lynch and Nicola Cain from Dresdner Kleinwort Benson.

Mr Sants says there may be further hirings in Milan and Madrid. DLJ is also well into building up a convertibles group and a portfolio trading group in London. Whether this huge investment will pay off, only time will tell.

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A COLLEAGUE of mine was filling out his expenses - as one does - when he espied on a taxi receipt a declaration of support for "The UK Independence Party". The receipt became a mini-banner: "Keep the pounds forever. Leave the EU. Phone 0171 636 3819."

Whatever next? I had that Romano Prodi in the back of my cab once...

u

NEXT TIME you open one of those little plastic cartons of cream to put into your cup of tea during a train journey, think of Simon Ashton. The 39-year-old former accountant has just been appointed chief executive of the largest maker of cream "minipots" in Europe.

But it is doubtful that you will have heard of his new employer, Pritchitt Foods, since it is privately owned. It runs a large dairy manufacturing plant near Belfast and its Kent head office is named Comelle House, after its soft ice cream. Mr Ashton, a newcomer to the dairy industry, has worked in textiles for Courtaulds, in the automotive industry, office furnishings and chemicals. Oh, and he is also a former hockey international. He represented England at under-16 level, playing in goal, before a heavy ball shattered his jaw. He now concentrates on mountain biking, wine and theatre.

u

ESTATE AGENT Knight Frank last week received an offer on the UK's most expensive house for sale on the open market,15a Kensington Palace Gardens. How close it was to the pounds 35m asking price, agent Richard Crosthwaite will not say. "It was from a European. I had never heard of him. Our local office is checking him out."

The property is not to everyone's taste. Estates Gazette sniped "the Greta Garbo exterior masks a Diana Dors interior."

Meanwhile, steps have been taken to ensure the buyer will get more that a dirty brown envelope stuffed with instructions in Japanese on how to operate the boiler. Down in the wine cellar lie a couple of shelves filled with 18 - yes 18 - lever-arch files, stuffed with plans of the heating and plumbing and air-conditioning systems. They will be needed. The boiler room looks like it could power a small ship.

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