Column Eight: Spill that changed history

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Anew face appears at Credit Suisse First Boston, the investment bank that is currently going through the trauma of moving 1,000 staff from London's West End to Docklands. Peter Kohl, son of the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, recently turned up for work in the mergers and acquisitions department.

Herr Kohl Jnr has already made a unique contribution to European affairs, skidding off a northern Italian motorway in his Volkswagen Golf in the autumn of 1991. Then aged 26, he broke several ribs and bruised a lung. His anxious papa at once rushed off to his hospital bedside, calling off a scheduled meeting with John Major.

The aim of that cancelled get-together had been to patch up the growing divergence over European union. The rest, of course, is history.

With Barclays occupying centre stage as the bank we can all laugh at, it's nice to see NatWest selflessly stepping into the spotlight with a perfectly decent cock-up of its own. Credits to thousands of Visa cardholders have gone astray, it admitted yesterday.

The gist is that NatWest has credited accounts that it ought not to have credited and left uncredited accounts that it ought to have credited. 'This is a one-off. I have never come across anything like this before,' apologises a NatWest spokesman, evidently a newcomer to the banking industry.

Our piece on 'hot-desking' yesterday prompted several calls. You may recall that the consultants Ernst & Young are economising on office space in London by making staff who spend a lot of time out of the office share their desks. E&Y in Chicago has gone even further - staff have to book desks by phone before arriving for work.

One reader, Charles Christian, of Diss in Norfolk, solves the mystery of what hot- deskers do with their photos, bottles of Scotch and other personal effects. At IBM (UK) they feed them to their 'puppy' - 'a cross between a safe and an attache case on wheels', he says. Hapless IBM execs are sometimes seen hauling their puppies around the office in a pathetic quest for a vacant hot desk.

Whatever happened to Liz Hignell, the former finance director of Isosceles? She was ousted from the Gateway supermarkets group 18 months ago, at the tender age of 32, with nothing but a pounds 600,000 pay-off? Her fellow escapee, chief executive David Smith, got pounds 1.2m.

Smith, who has since become deputy chairman of Celtic football club, emerged this week as chief executive of Cannon Street Investments, the mini-conglomerate. Now I hear that Hignell is doing the finance director's job at CSI in all but name.

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