Eyebrows rise at Pearson as Dyke pursues own goal

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The Independent Online
Raised eyebrows at Pearson, where Greg Dyke, chief executive of Pearson Television, has let it be known that he is taking time off to make programmes for a rival company. The former London Weekend Television boss - who walked away with pounds 8m when the station was taken over by Granada - is to further indulge his passion for sports by making another of his Fair Play series with Yorkshire Television.

The bearded media mogul, a fanatical footballer, made the first series last year, using the time off before joining Pearson to make the programmes. News of the second series has nevertheless surprised insiders, who point out that relations between Yorkshire and Pearson have not always been cordial (to say the least). Mr Dyke was Pearson's man on the Yorkshire board, where tensions were said to be more than creative. Pearson eventually sold its 14 per cent stake in Yorkshire last year.

Pearson bods privately concede that Mr Dyke can do pretty much as he pleases. It is not as if you can threaten a man with pounds 8m in the bank, observes one.

Is there a victor in the clash of the Titans that has been taking place at HSBC? Roger Bootle, the high-profile head of the economists at HSBC Markets - formerly Midland Global Markets - has been appointed group chief economist for HSBC Holdings. The question is: what will happen to Keith Skeoch, the equally eminent chief economist at another HSBC subsidiary, brokers James Capel?

The outlook for the two rival teams has been a matter of much speculation since HSBC took over Midland. The gradually diminishing differences in their forecasts has only served to highlight the obvious overlap between the two departments.

HSBC plans to make a further announcement within the next fortnight. The smart money says that the whole shebang will merge.

So farewell then Sir Nicholas Goodison. Not the man himself, you understand, rather the family name, which will be erased from the brass plates of the City in March. The family firm Quilter Goodison (Est 1777) is merging with the smaller Foster & Braithwaite (1825) to create a single firm of private client brokers. Sadly for the former chairman of the Stock Exchange, the new outfit will be known simply as Quilter & Co.

Facing stiff competition from upstart rivals in its "analogue" mobile phone market (the fourth-quarter figures were an absolute fright), Motorola has been pushing its state-of-the-art digital technology. Now the communications giant is sponsoring the BT Global Challenge - the round-the-world yacht race - and will use the nautical marathon to strut its stuff. Participating skippers will each be supplied with a Motorola "flare mobile" and a Motorola pager.

Alas, small comfort for sailors in distress. The "flare'' function on the mobile apparently relates to its "vibrant style". The pager, on the other hand, vibrates silently to alert the skipper of an incoming message. Just what you need in a Force 10 gale.

In what some might regard as curious timing - the company has just scrapped its profit-related pay scheme - Julie Ramshaw, the 32-year- old vice-president at Morgan Stanley, has joined Laura Ashley as group director of merchandising (not a board position). The retail analyst is in no doubt that it is the right move. "I knew I'd go back to retailing,'' she chirruped. "I feel incredibly passionate about it. My heart belongs to the industry."

Investors may recall that it was Ms Ramshaw who famously tipped Next shares at about 7p when the company was on the brink of collapse a few years ago. They have since soared to over 400p.

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