Consultants get ready to mix it in a loose maul

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The Independent Online
Simon Pincombe CITY DIARY

Mike Catt, the England rugby union full-back, and the first player to turn professional, is shortly to announce a sponsorship deal with a firm of management consultants. The coup is certain to lead to collective hysteria among rival firms, followed by a mad scramble for the remainder of the England team.

England rugby internationals will be paid pounds 40,000 a year by the Rugby Football Union this season. Like footballers, they are free to negotiate individual deals on top of their salaries. But while Eric Cantona makes big bucks from his endorsement of Nike boots, rugby players may find it more difficult to push the questionable benefits of management consultancy.

It is one thing for Andersen Consulting to plaster its name over the crash helmet of the Grand Prix driver Damon Hill. But there is not much mileage to be had from a miniscule logo stitched on the shorts of a fast- running player (unless he happens to be sent off).

No, the consultants must surely expect more. Post-match interviews with players are sure to degenerate into the cap-changing exercises pioneered by the Grand Prix drivers.

One firm that may have a distinct advantage is McKinsey. It could follow the example of the National Grid in cricket and sponsor the umpire/referee. The London office of McKinsey is run by Norman Sanson, a former international referee who made his name when he sent off two players in the 1977 match between Wales and Ireland.

The Bank of England Governor's goodwill tour of the Far East appears to have a touch of Foreign Office diplomacy about it. Eddie George yesterday arrived in Hong Kong to begin a drum-beating visit to Tokyo, Shanghai, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Singapore, however, is not on the agenda. This may have something to do with the fact Singapore authorities are today publishing their report on the Barings disaster. International relations would not be best served by a public birching of Britain's central banker.

Robbed of his chance to become a finance director of an FT-SE 100 stock when the Medeva/Fisons talks collapsed, Dennis Millard has taken the direct route and gone to Cookson. After 13 years with the Plate Glass Company of South Africa the Medeva finance director simply would not be denied his crack at the big time.

The City was in no doubt that Mr Millard would have taken the financial helm in the combined group rather than his counterpart at Fisons. David Hankinson, the Fisons FD, is building an impressive track record of handsome payoffs. Since March 1992 he walked away with pounds 350,000 from Lucas and an estimated pounds 400,000 from Ranks Hovis McDougall. Now Fisons has been taken over he stands to make about pounds 270,000 on his two year contract plus nearly pounds 750,000 from share options.

The removal of Derek Lewis as the Director General of the Prison Service may come as a blessed relief to his administration staff. The former chief executive of Granada earned an unenviable reputation during his time at the leisure and television concern as a man who found it hard to delegate.

The result was an avalanche of memos, backing up his every action, even down to minor secretarial matters.

Granada insiders are still shaken by the sheer volume of paperwork he left behind. Some have suggested, a little unkindly, that it has taken the two years that Mr Lewis has been at the Prison Service to clear the backlog. At least Sir John Learmont, who prepared yesterday's report, was not short of documentary evidence.