Hambros puts lawyers through the hoops

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The Independent Online
To the Grosvenor House Hotel where Clive Anderson (above) was in biting form at the annual awards extravaganza of International Financing Review (the magazine for all your bond requirements). "Never miss an issue,'' quipped the raconteur as he began the roll of honour. Unfortunately, the news that the "borrower of year'' category had been won by the Kingdom of Sweden was more than Mr Anderson could conceptually grasp. "Narrowly pipping the Duchess of York,'' he guffawed before dissolving into an attack of near-hysteria.

Concern on the City croquet circuit that Hambros will soon be unbeatable. Rivals point out that the sport is taken very seriously at the blue-blooded merchant bank, which boasts not only its own croquet lawn but also players of the highest calibre.

The lawn is probably the only purpose-built croquet lawn in the City. That it is on the top of the multi-storey car park next to Hambros' offices, overlooking the Tower of London, is a bonus. Directly above the Docklands Light Railway, it provides easy access by all forms of transport (or would if the DLR could be relied on).

The lawn has seen many a City confrontation. Hambros often challenges fellow institutions, not least the law firm Cameron Markby Hewitt, which is next door. But there have been dark mutterings from the lawyers about a "ringer", a highly accomplished championship-level player.

My inquires are directed towards the "director in charge of croquet'' who, unfortunately, is unavailable for comment. No doubt practising on the lawn.

Two senior people at Orange, the mobile phone company heading for flotation, are really backpackers who have yet to complete their wanderings. Hans Snook, the managing director, left Canada in 1983 for a two-year world trip with his wife. However, he only managed six months through South- east Asia before arriving in Hong Kong and a job with Young Generation, the computer network and paging group, which later sold part of its business to Orange's owners, Hutchison.

Graham Howe, the finance director, did much the same thing. Only he started in 1990 and arrived via the trans-Siberian route and China.

Among the rash of new books on management techniques comes the most plausible explanation yet for the cause of the Third World debt crisis. Monkey Business (Gower, pounds 25) has been written by Gary Johnson, the marketing director of the never-knowingly-undersold British Biotech (you will recall the shares went through pounds 25 recently on the "cure for cancer'' story). Mr Johnson comes from a science background and is of the firm belief that we "are equipped with the evolutionary wisdom of the cavemen''.

One of our problems, according to Mr Johnson, is that we tend to form habits - a shortcut by which "the brain bypasses the limited processing capacity of the concious mind''. It was habit, he claims, that led to disasters like the Third World debt crisis when bank managers went on making insanely unsafe loans subconsiously. "Habits free the consious mind for daydreaming,'' notes the author. There you have it in a nutshell.

Manhattan dentist, Paul Rotwein, is arrested and charged with performing an unusual line in bridging work. Aetna, the leading US insurer, is not at all amused to find it has paid $3,462 for three sessions on one of its clients. Mainly because Priscilla LaPolla was dead at the time. Mr Rotwein, who lives on the 39th floor of New York's prestigious Chrysler building, is charged with fraudulently billing the insurance company and with other fraudulent offences - all, oddly enough, on public school teachers.

Opening Ms LaPolla's mail, her niece was horrified to find her still undergoing dental treatment from beyond the grave.