Gardens lose lure for the Woolwich whistle-blower

City Diary
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The whistle-blower who sneaked on Peter Robinson, the recently ousted chief executive of Woolwich Building Society, is now known throughout the society as "Mo' the Grass". One allegation, of course, was that Mr Robinson had used the society's own gardeners to work at his house.

Sid is dead. Long Live Sid! The advisers to the much-derided Railtrack float failed completely to conceal their glee yesterday as applications for the last week broke all privatisation records.

Contrary to the predictions of a cynical press, the small investor has not lost faith in such offers after all. Over half a million people applied for Railtrack shares in the week to 29 April, ignoring completely the plethora of "Sid is dead" headlines in the papers. One senior adviser to the float chortled yesterday: "Any publicity is good publicity."

Oxford United fanatic John Dunsmore is leaving NatWest Securities after three years to join Scottish & Newcastle, Britain's biggest brewer, as its corporate development director.

The 37-year old has hopped between brewing jobs and the City over the last decade. Before becoming NatWest Securities' deputy managing director of UK and European Equities, he spent three years with Burton on Trent brewers Marston Thompson and Evershed, the makers of Marston's Pedigree and other fine ales. Before that he was a brewing analyst at NatWest.

There is only one thing on Mr Dunsmore's mind at the moment, though: Can Oxford United win promotion from the Second to the First Division on Saturday by beating Peterborough?

The Financial Times had an intriguing headline on page 26 yesterday: "PowerGen is threatened with MCC referral." Howzat!

More musical chairs as Philip Kendall leaves Samuel Montagu after 12 years in its corporate finance department. He is reputedly receiving a handsome package, even by City standards, from his new employers, accountants Coopers & Lybrand.

He will head Coopers' public company advisory practice. Presumably the bean-counters have to pay over the odds, since their drive to break into mainstream corporate finance is expected by the City to be a damp squib, although this may just be sour grapes.

Mr Kendall, 48, owns a large pile in Northamptonshire and is mad about Jaguar cars. A former colleague at Samuel Montagu mused yesterday: "I don't believe Coopers' car scheme will be providing him with the new Jaguar XK8".

SBC Warburg suffered another embarrassing defection from its corporate finance department yesterday when Hugh Scott-Barrett resigned as head of its power sector team to join ABN Amro Hoare Govett. The 37-year-old will become chief executive of ABN's European Corporate Finance business, concentrating on cross-border mergers - after he has finished two months' gardening leave first. "He'll be a bigger fish in a smaller pond," one former colleague remarked of the popular racehorse owner. While the papers have been full recently of former Warburg corporate financiers leaving in disgust at perceived Swiss heavy-handedness, Mr Scott-Barrett is an SBC man. Having been there 10 years, he was second in command to Rudi Bogni when last year's merger occurred.

SBC Warburg denied his departure would damage any of its power and utility deals - the bank is advising Southern Company of the US, for example. "We've got very capable guys running these things," an SBC Warburg spokesman said. "This isn't part of a bigger problem or haemorrhage of staff."