Column Eight: Halifax takes on Halifax

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Yorkshire is once again riven by factions, and we're not talking cricket. A High Court injunction granted yesterday to Halifax Insurance and Provident Financial, its Bradford-based parent, bans the other Halifax, the world's biggest building society, from using the name of its home town when selling motor insurance.

Halifax Insurance says it has been using the name since 1966 and, as far as motor insurance is concerned, the Halifax Building Society is a newcomer. The society retorts that its ripe old age is what matters. 'We are confident that when the case comes to court in early 1994 we will be able to establish that our massive reputation with the general public entitles us to use our own name as we have done since 1853,' booms a spokesman.

Meanwhile a pilot marketing exercise of 'Halifax Motor Xtra' policies has been bowled out at least until the verdict.

DESPITE press speculation over his job security, Neil Clarke, chairman of beleaguered British Coal, still raises a smile. Speaking at a coal industry lunch, he mentioned a colleague's suggestion that he ask a firm of headhunters to find a stand-in speaker. 'I dismissed the suggestion. Indeed, I understand that the better firms might be otherwise engaged,' he said.

Mr Clarke later commented how very difficult legislation makes it to get rid of chairmen of nationalised industries. Asked if he intended to stay the course, he replied: 'Just so.'

JAMES ROBINSON III, former chief executive of American Express, has apparently seen his many suggestions for a graceful exit - one involving an Amex-endowed chair in his name at Harvard Business School, and another providing him with a corporate jet as a full-time consultant - turned down by the board.

According to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Robinson will instead be subsisting on the minimum retirement benefits in his contract. That is dollars 2m in pay for two months' work this year, a lump sum payment of dollars 1.7m worth of Amex shares, and pension and other perks worth barely dollars 1m a year for the rest of his life. Will he cope?

FURIOUS mutterings in the recession-hit British sailing industry stem from reports that four German-made yachts, worth about pounds 200,000, have been commissioned for the Army sailing club to help with 'adventure training' (jollies for the lads). Last night an MoD spokesman couldn't find the Army yachties to confirm the story, but said: 'If a foreign bid is thought to give better value for money it is quite likely that we will go down that route.' Meanwhile, naval dockyards battle for existence . . .