Hill Samuel prepares to go in to bat at Lord's

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The merchant bank Hill Samuel may have disappeared when Lloyds Bank bought its owner, TSB, but Hill Samuel Asset Management is still very much alive and kicking, says Rob Page, marketing director of HSAM.

And to underline this, HSAM is sponsoring Middlesex County Cricket Club for pounds 750,000 over the next three years. "Lloyds TSB wants us to be fund manager for the whole group, and we need to re-establish the credibility of the name," says Mr Page.

He says the Middlesex club sponsorship fitted perfectly with the company's plans, not least because its base at Lord's cricket ground is just 15 minutes from HSAM's Fleet Street office in London.

There are other benefits, he adds. "I played cricket a lot in my 20s. Now I play for the company side. We can now play at the Nursery at Lord's.

"I can't wait to see the opposition's faces when we play Mike Gatting and Mark Ramprakash as the first two."

Mr Page does have one regret. "I was born in Kent and lived there for 30 years. My heart will always be there." His colleagues should therefore watch out for any mysteriously dropped catches.

Simon Bevan, head of fraud investigations at accountants Arthur Andersen, this week received one of the most interesting and challenging appointments of his life; tracking down Jewish assets and bank accounts looted during the Holocaust.

"It's the world's biggest ever asset-tracing exercise, and we've been given unprecedented access to the Swiss banking system," says Mr Bevan, a former Hong Kong policeman.

The appointment includes Arthur Andersen, KPMG and Price Waterhouse and was made by the International Committee of Eminent Persons, made up of Jewish organisations and the Swiss Banking Association.

The Swiss are paying for the search, which will examine gold and bank deposits in the UK, US, Switzerland, Poland, Germany and many other countries, says Mr Bevan.

"The Swiss Parliament voted to give us unfettered access to Swiss banks," says Mr Bevan, a move which will end centuries of secrecy.

The teams of accountants are being assembled, says Mr Bevan, and they are about to decide whether to base the investigation in London or Switzerland.

Around 80 people are expected at the annual Slater Walker reunion at Scribes wine bar off Fleet Street on Thursday, 28 November.

It is unlikely, however, that the two prime movers behind the property group, which collapsed in the 1970s crash, will be attending - Jim Slater and Peter Walker.

The way the company collapsed, leading to Britain's secondary banking crisis of 1973, doesn't seem to have dented the ex-employees' enthusiasm for get-togethers, which they have held since November 1976. The reunions are organised by an old Slater Walker hand, John S Arthur, who now runs a business called National Dental Plan, as well as Scribes.

Mike Finn, Whitehall's longest-serving press spokesman, had a retirement party last night at his last post, the Office of National Statistics.

The office party was a three-in-one affair. It included a seasonally adjusted Christmas party and celebrated the department's move from the back half of the Treasury building in Whitehall to new offices over Pimlico Underground station, as well as Mr Finn's departure.

"I joined the Treasury press office in 1962 on the same weekend that Harold Macmillan [then prime minster] sacked Selwyn Lloyd as Chancellor," says Mr Finn.

"I've handled devaluation, decimalisation - I guess you could say I've done a lot of damage.

"I'll be retiring to deepest Surrey to write, consult and advise, free from the obstructions of bureaucracy. I've enjoyed my time here. I've had a ring-side seat on history."

What changes has he noticed in the media since he started? "The younger journalists don't seem to drink. With a name like Mickey Finn, that's not good news," he says.

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