How to hold on to your key staff - by Nicola Horlick

People & Business
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The Independent Online
Love her or loathe her, there's not much chance of ignoring Nicola Horlick, the woman who did for Morgan Grenfell Asset Management what Attila the Hun did for ancient Rome.

The Recruitment Society have just sent me an invitation to hear la Horlick, currently managing director of Societe Generale Asset Management UK, give a speech later this month entitled: "Recruitment and Retention in the City."

Will anyone from Morgan Grenfell be in attendance, I wonder?

Terry Thomas is not entirely looking forward to his retirement after nine years as managing director of the Co-operative Bank. He tells me that his new job - in the House of Lords - only pays him a measly pounds 30 a day for a secretary, with lousy facilities and no office of his own.

Attempting to lighten his mood, I enquired whether he would also have to supply his own ermine.

Bearing in mind the Co-op's aggressively "green" image, Mr Thomas admitted he would "have to find an ethically correct ermine".

He then speculated on where the Coldstream Guards get their synthetic bearskins from. Is there anyone out there who can help?

No sooner do I write that Sir Brian Pearse is about to retire from British Invisibles than he marches off to be the new deputy chairman of Britannic Assurance.

Britannic is best known as a rather boring company which sells policies to C2Ds and collects their premiums door to door. Sources at Britannic tell me this is all going to change, and that a bright chap like Sir Brian wouldn't have taken the job otherwise. His joining "is a signal that he understands and is excited by potential Britannic has in the market".

Over the last year the company has gained an entirely new top team, including Harold Cottam as chairman. Last February it made a deal with the DTI over the ownership of its "orphan assets" and the share price has moved ahead. Now Sir Brian, a former boss at Barclays and Midland, will help cut fat from the company. Stand by for lift off. Or something like that.

Personally I would have thought Sir Brian was ready to start cultivating roses and improving his handicap after such a long and successful career, but his appetite for business seems undimmed. He's still chairman of LucasVarity as well.

Coincidentally, Mr Cottam is retiring as chairman of the Haden MacLellan engineering group, to make way for Roger Leverton.

It was Mr Leverton, you may recall, who was forced to carry the can for Pilkington's troubles when he headed the glass maker. Let's hope he has better luck this time.

Keith Vaz is at it again. Baiting BCCI's liquidators, that is. No sooner have the boys from Deloitte & Touche won a $2.1bn judgment for damages in the Cayman Islands courts against Ghaith Pharaon, a Saudi financier connected to BCCI, than the MP for Leicester is demanding all the money be paid over immediately to the crashed bank's creditors.

Mr Vaz arranged what was to have been a private meeting yesterday with Chris Morris and John Richards, UK-based liquidators from Deloitte & Touche. In the event the MP turned up with a platoon of photographers at the liquidators' offices in Fetter Lane, London.

The liquidators agreed to look at his proposal for a public meeting at which creditors could ask questions directly. It is after all five years since the last public meeting, and seven years since the corrupt bank was shut down.

Mr Morris and Mr Richards rejected another of Mr Vaz's proposals - that they drop their legal suits against Price Waterhouse, BCCI's former auditors, and the Bank of England, one of its regulators. Mr Vaz suggested that since they already had $2.1bn coming from Mr Pharaon, fighting the other legal cases was a waste of money. But the Touche boys reckon they can still win compensation for creditors from the two institutions.

Whatever happens, the liquidators are certainly painfully aware that their fees are under scrutiny. Perhaps that's why they are about to move to new offices - above McDonald's in Holborn.

Trefor Llewellyn has asked to be moved to an operational role at Caradon and is therefore leaving the board and giving up his current job of finance director. Caradon sources assure me this has nothing to do with shareholder disquiet over Mr Llewellyn's previous job as finance director of Wickes, the building materials group which suffered a pounds 50m accounting glitch last year. Mr Llewellyn, after all, arrived at Caradon two years ago, I'm told.

Mr Llewellyn will become corporate development director in charge of acquisitions and disposals. He will be replaced by Martin Clarke, who is coming in from Associated British Foods.

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