Comeback by former Pearson blue-blood

People & Business

James Joll, the blue-blooded quintessence of the old-guard at Pearson until his retirement before Christmas, has popped us as non-executive chairman of AIB Asset Management Holdings, which bought John Govett a year ago.

The Irish banking group is clearly hoping that Govett's fund management expertise will give it critical mass in that area, as John Govett will take the lead managing the pounds 12bn portfolio.

The Honourable Kevin Pakenham, chief executive of John Govett, becomes chief executive of the asset management company. Most of the group's products will be Govett-branded.

Eton and Oxbrige-educated, Mr Joll remains a non-executive director of Equitas, the Lloyd's of London rescue vehicle, as well as Economist Newspapers. He has given up his non-executive directorship of Lazard Brothers, the merchant bank part-owned by Pearson.

Mr Joll was originally a journalist, working on the Financial Times's Lex Column, so I expect that he will not be slow in telling AIB how the operation should be run.

Razor-sharp City folk who think they know their Francois Pienarr from their Piont Noir can put their brain power to the test to help Marie Curie Cancer Care - the UK's biggest cancer care charity.

Team entries are now being taken for the annual Marie Curie Brain Game, which takes place at the London South Bank Studios on 6 March, with the BBC's Martyn Lewis as quiz-master.

The Brain Game is now in its seventh year and has so far raised more than pounds 470,000 to help people with cancer.

Anyone wishing to enter a team should call Penny Wheeler on 0171 201 2396. Champagne, dinner and wine are included in the ticket price - but you will have to supply your own IQ.

Just as GEC's chairman for 33 years, Lord Weinstock, has retired, the company's deputy managing director of the last 12 years, Malcolm Bates, has also left for pastures new.

Mr Bates, 62, has been appointed non-executive chairman of Premier Farnell, the Anglo-American electronic components distributor.

George Simpson who replaced Lord Weinstock as GEC's chairman is understood to have good relations with Mr Bates, so it doesn't look like a post-Weinstock clear-out.

Mr Bates's predecessor, Richard Hanwell, announced his intention to leave Premier last summer after spending five years there, and Premier was prepared to wait until the right replacement came along.

Howard Poulson, Premier's chief executive, says: "He's exactly what we were looking for. He comes from a fairly large organisation, and we're growing. He is respected in the City, and he has international experience (in the US and Asia). He's also had spells in government and a merchant bank."

Before joining GEC Mr Bates was joint managing director at Grindlay Brandt ANZ Merchant Bank, after serving two years with the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation.

He is a keen classical music buff, so no doubt he is relieved that he will not be forced to move to Premier's head office in Wetherby, Yorkshire, where concert halls are rather thinner on the ground than his present home, London.

Tim Eggar, former Energy Minister, has picked up a second plum job just six months after resigning from the Government.

Yesterday Monument Oil & Gas said Mr Eggar, who remains MP for Enfield North until the general election, will join the company's board as a non- executive director.

Just three months ago Mr Eggar caused a stir when he was appointed chairman of MW Kellogg, an oil services company and the UK wing of the American engineering and construction subsidiary of Dresser Industries.

He was believed to have been offered a salary of around pounds 150,000 a year.

A spokesman for Monument is keen to point out that Mr Eggar's more recent appointment isn't just about going for the money. "Mr Eggar and Monument's chief executive Tony Craven Walker go back some way."

Indeed they do. Before Mr Eggar, now 45, went into politics he worked for an investment banking boutique and was non executive director of Charterhouse Petroleum - the oil company Mr Craven Walker ran before he set up Monument in 1988.

At Monument Mr Eggar will "have particular responsibilities relating to the development of Monument's expanding overseas activities, including the important Caspian Sea region where Monument is already operating a large concession containing existing oil and gas fields in Western Turkmenistan," says Monument.

Monument has decided not to bid in the latest license round for for UK offshore exploration, specifically to avoid any possible conflict of interest with Mr Eggar's recent post as Energy Minister. Who says ethics are dead?

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