Column Eight: Showing a debt-free preference

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The Independent Online
DAVID Tweedie's bid to clean up corporate accounting appears to be having an impact, if not in quite the way he might have intended.

British Land, the property company, is to exchange its pounds 115.1m convertible capital bonds for cumulative convertible redeemable preference shares. Apart from the odd different word and the fact that the 8.625 per cent return will be called dividend instead of interest, the sole difference is that the prefs will not count as debt under the proposals from Mr Tweedie's Accounting Standards Board while the bonds would have.

HEINO Ruland, a dashing 36-year-old German merchant banker and former head of Baring Securities in Frankfurt, is joining Nomura's London office. For the first 12 months he will commute from his home in Germany. He is well equipped to do so, owning a Harley-Davidson Softale and three classic Mercedes-Benz convertibles. What recession?

NOT A GOOD day to be a director yesterday. First Dares Estates dispensed with its finance director, Giles Knopp, as part of its attempt to stitch together a restructuring agreement with its banks.

At National Windscreens, an internal restructuring means that the post of chief executive 'no longer exists' and its unfortunate incumbent, Gwyn Lloyd, has left.

PERHAPS Messrs Knopp and Lloyd could consider asking Sir Graham Day if he has any directorships to spare. Having given up one or two to pilot British Aerospace through its turbulent patch, he is back in collecting mode now it appears to be flying more comfortably.

Latest to add to the list - which includes Cadbury Schweppes, PowerGen, MAI and the Dutch truck company DAF - is the chairmanship of a national federation that has just been set up to speak on behalf of enterprise agencies.

THE COMPANY reporting service run by Extel Financial grows odder by the day. Yesterday's gem came in its explanation for an 11p fall in the shares of London International: 'Visits to analysts to say their forecasts are too high.' And we thought the analysts drew up the forecasts.

THE SWISS burghers responsible for the safety of the world's economic elite, currently testing the piste at the World Economic Forum in Davos, are taking no chances. Even the guard dog - an Airedale terrier called Valentina von Madulin - wears an identity badge with photo.

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