Column Eight: A bank in need of . . . money

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The Independent Online
BARCLAYS Bank was having a bad day yesterday. It finally admitted a write-off of pounds 196m worth of loans to Imry, the property company (coincidentally creating a lot of extra work for its in-house press office, which last night hosted its 'project-a-good-image-to-the- press' Christmas party).

And, at the branch in Oxted, Surrey, a customer who popped in to cash a modest cheque was told: 'Sorry, sir, we've run out of money,' and had to leave empty-handed. Meanwhile, Barclays staff were spotted creeping up the road to augment supplies from the Lloyds Bank cash machine.

NOT only does Barclays Bank have to live with the write-off at Imry, it is positively steeped within Imry. For the bank's head office at Royal Mint Court, next to the Tower of London, was developed by - Imry.

TESTAMENT to the incredible growth of Direct Line Insurance (founded 1985) is the decision of Lord Airlie and Ranald Noel-Paton to resign from the board of its parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland.

This is because they are also directors of the leviathan General Accident ('General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation plc, founded 1837') and sense a possible conflict of interest with the newer boy on the block.

Compensation arrives, however, with Iain Vallance, chairman of BT, who joins the RBS board in their stead.

ANOTHER executive on the move is Robert Horton, who has found a new bolt-hole since being replaced at the helm of British Petroleum in June - he has been appointed as vice-chairman of the British Railways Board to help prepare it for privatisation. A fellow co-optee is Archie Norman, chief executive of Asda and darling of the City, who becomes a part-time board member.

THE CAMBRIDGESHIRE estate agent William H Brown may not have been too happy with its ad in the St Ives and Huntingdon Town Cryer (regular reading here). 'All staff,' it reads, 'have seat a rigorous in-house examination to assess their level of Estate Agency knowledge and competance'.

THE MOST curious thing about the trial of a German busker who allegedly tried to use a credit card stolen from Ian Maxwell is that, even though the busker had in his possession 32 (thirty-two) of Mr Maxwell's credit cards, Mr Maxwell didn't realise they were missing until the police told him.