Former BZW head is the new Invisibles man

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The Independent Online
British Invisibles, those brave battlers on behalf of Britain's financial sector, have appointed a new director general to take us into the Millennium.

Jeremy Seddon, 57, retired as chairman of BZW/Barclays India last January, and will arrive at the private sector body just as it is about to lose its popular chairman, Sir Brian Pearse. Sir Brian, a former big wheel at both Barclays and Midland, is due to retire from British Invisibles before Christmas, although the group is coy about naming his successor.

Mr Seddon has signed up for an initial three years to promote UK-based financial institutions and professional firms to audiences around the world. He succeeds the Honourable Alison Wright.

A Freeman of the City of London, Mr Seddon started his career with Associated Electrical Industries, leaving in 1968 to join Dalgety. From there he joined Barclays Merchant Bank (which was later folded into BZW), where he founded the privatisation and government advisory business.

This gave Mr Seddon the springboard to a whole clutch of privatisations, including London Buses, the Australian Federal Airports Corporation, Sumerbank in Turkey and National Steel in the Philippines.

Paribas has done very well with its mergers and acquisitions business in Paris, and now it wants to do the same in London, where it has snapped up Oliver Ellingham from Charterhouse to build an Anglo-Saxon style M&A operation.

Before joining Charterhouse in 1995 Mr Ellingham spent 11 years at Flemings, three of those with Bill Harrison before the latter hit the jackpot at BZW. "I learnt a lot from Bill," Mr Ellingham fondly recalls.

Although Mr Ellingham is reluctant to talk about his time at Charterhouse other than to say he enjoyed it, City observers say that the French and German owners of the merchant bank restricted its corporate finance operations too much.

In contrast, at Paribas Mr Ellingham may get a whiff of the France Telecom sell-off. He will also be recruiting more people, in order to give the French a true taste of how les rosbifs do corporate finance. "I will certainly be recruiting, but I don't see huge numbers," he says. "I will take people on as appropriate."

Mr Ellingham will be using his 14 years' experience in M&A to build a business which will concentrate on cross-border deals, particularly between the UK and US.

He joins the executive committee of Paribas' Advisory Service and will report to its worldwide head, Thierry Varene, who recently joined the French bank from BZW.

Fancy buying a rural retreat up north? A charming farmhouse in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, is up for sale for around the pounds 90,000 mark. The seller is Peter Young, the former asset manager who made some rather odd stock selections for his Deutsche Morgan Grenfell funds.

Bill Turcan, chief executive of Harrisons & Crosfield, is a worried man. The company isn't selling nearly as much malt for beer-making as it used to.

The reason? Germans are drinking less. Mr Turcan says: "There has been a significant fall-off in German beer consumption. And we still haven't seen a rise, despite the recent good export figures for Germany (following the falling mark). There's no sign of a return of the feelgood factor amongst German drinkers."

Some observers suggest that this drying up at the bierkeller is due to high German unemployment, leading to less cash for boozing. But wouldn't the unemployed want to drown their sorrows? All very confusing. Pass me a stein.

They're all at it on the Continent, but it looks like we might finally be catching up. Mixing law firms up with accountancy practices, that is. Beancounters Ernst & Young have recruited Andrew Daws, formerly a heavy hitter with law firm Denton Hall, as a "full time consultant". E&Y's senior partner Nick Land says Mr Daws' job is to advise him whether the firm should link up with a law firm or try to grow its own legal practice.

"We favour the former course," says Mr Land, "and we see Andrew playing a significant role whichever option we go for. The ultimate aim is to build a global law firm."

Ambitious stuff - until you realise that the Swiss, Spanish, Italians, Dutch and French already have combined law and accountancy firms. Arthur Andersen and Price Waterhouse have had a go in the UK

Other law firms better watch out. Ernst hasn't necessarily stopped recruiting with Mr Daws. Mr Land warns: "If they've got good guys, we'll have 'em."

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