Column Eight: Quinton boots kick-start

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir John Quinton, presiding over his last results press conference as Barclays chairman (and a gloomy set of figures they were), went all coy when drawn on a competitor's much criticised plan to stimulate the housing market with government tax credits.

'After the way their proposal to kick-start the economy has been savaged by the media, I'm fairly reluctant to join in,' he smirked. But he couldn't resist a dig: 'I'm of the view that the savaging was justified.'

The brain drain continues. An oil company executive named today as Britain's best boss is moving to a new job in Australia later this year.

Greg Bourne, 43, chief executive of BP Marine, beat five other finalists after being nominated as 'simply the best' by his secretary, Daryl Gardner. He promised to give her time off to take her holiday to Hong Kong or San Francisco as part of the prize given by the sponsors, DHL. No wonder she nominated him.

Speaking of secretaries, more proof that most bosses are at a complete loss without 'em. Hugh Whitbread, investment manager at Whitbread Investment Company, was kind enough to offer us a document we needed. 'I could put it in the post and you'd get it tomorrow,' he said.

'Couldn't you fax it over?' the reporter inquired.' Er, no,' was the embarrassed answer. Reporter: 'Can you not work the fax machine then?' Whitbread: 'Er, no.'

Reporter: 'Can you send it to me now if I tell you how to work the fax machine?' Whitbread: 'Well, to be honest I'm not even sure I could find the document anyway. My secretary has a day off.'

Still, he rallied magnificently. The document arrived half an hour later.

Here's something to test the mettle of fund managers: invest pounds 25,000 for a year to get the maximum return for the children's cancer unit at Bart's Hospital.

The ICL/Bart's Investment Challenge was won last year by Save & Prosper, which doubled its money, thus raising pounds 25,703. But in the recession, more challengers are needed to pit their wits against the markets next year.

This year's challenge finishes later this month and we shall publish details of the most impressive performance, so an entry is well worth the pounds 25,000 risk. 071-638 5622.