Column Eight: A mystery waiting to be solved

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The Independent Online
Terry Smith, new finance director at the chemicals group MTM, is no relation of the author of 'that book' Accounting for Growth. But he would be advised to remember its lessons.

One of the mysteries of MTM is how its previous management spent pounds 150m on acquisitions and capital expenditure over the past three years but left the group with net assets of just pounds 15m.

The troubled Lloyd's of London insurance market has responded to its immediate disciplinary needs in appropriate fashion. A 'biker' becomes the holder of the pounds 250,000-a-year chief executive's job, albeit in the unthreatening shape of former travel agent and monk Peter Middleton.

A true motorbike enthusiast, he does not plan to employ a chauffeur for his favoured method of transport. 'The seats are too small,' he confides.

The 'PET' is a new savings account developed by Sanwa, one of Japan's leading banks. It's not a misprint of Pep and it has nothing to do with personal equity. The Japanese may have been the world's biggest savers at the end of 1990, but Sanwa is dissatisfied with human customers alone.

Its facilities are now being offered to account holders' dogs, cats, birds and reptiles. In fact, any pet can open an account - receiving a cash dispensing card and account book - as long as it fulfills one condition: that it has a keeper.

If you're forking out whopping premiums to insure your house against burglary, spare a thought for BP. Petroleum Review, the industry journal, reveals that the cost per annum (for fully comprehensive cover, one assumes) of guarding BP's Colombian oil field against terrorists comes to . . . dollars 24m.

Only three months after Sir Bryan Carsberg departed Oftel for the Office of Fair Trading, the Government is supposedly cranking itself up to begin interviewing would-be heads for the telecommunications watchdog. Its belated effort comes despite the success made of the post by Bill Wigglesworth, Sir Bryan's former deputy, who has been filling in and would like the job permanently.

Whitehall, it seems, wants a businessman (Sir Bryan was an accountant and an academic) and Mr Wigglesworth is a civil servant. Any top-flight businessman with a salary in the region of pounds 70,000 should apply.

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