It's goodbye then, said a UBS spokesperson

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The Independent Online
Lisa Spiro, the doyenne of investment banking PRs, left UBS last Friday after seven years as their chief spokesperson in order to set up her own business.

Ms Spiro was given a farewell dinner this Tuesday which was attended by three of her former bosses - Rudi Mueller, chairman of UBS, Alan Ogden, formerly of Hill & Knowlton and now with UBS, and Neil Collins, City editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Ms Spiro started off as a financial journalist in the 1970s, and since then she has worked for Salomon Brothers as well as UBS.

"It's been a wonderful time," she said yesterday, taking time off from moving house. "It's the first time I've been out of corporate life since I was 18."

She is in the early stages of planning her own business, which will advise companies on areas such as crisis management, social issues and corporate responsibility. It should be up and running by the end of November.

As for who would succeed her at UBS, she said Mr Ogden would continue with his present role, dealing with emerging markets, as would Simon Pincombe, who fields most press calls. Mr Pincombe is, of course, a distinguished former author of this very column. So the status quo would be maintained for the moment, she said, but the bank might choose to do something different at the end of the year. (Go for it, Simon.)

Kevin Barker has stepped down as head of UK equities at Foreign & Colonial, to be replaced by John Wood, a former executive at Mercury Asset Management.

The change has been prompted by the promotion of Arnab Banerji to the post of chief investment officer. Mr Banerji, incidentally, is an eye surgeon who has turned to broking, and has been with F&C for four years.

F&C owns the biggest emerging markets operation in London and bought out the last minority stake in the division two months ago. Since then Mr Banerji has reviewed the business and made several changes.

David Manning, his deputy, says: "Any new chief investment officer wants things to be done his way. There were a few differences between him and Kevin Barker. Everyone parted on good terms." Other changes include Kevin Smith taking over asset allocation, says Mr Manning.

Young's Brewery has put one over on its rival Whitbread in a very public manner. Whitbread has decided to dispose of the Shire horses which traditionally haul its beer drays through the streets of London.

This has in turn caused a problem for the Lord Mayor of London, since his massive 18th century coach, used in the Lord Mayor's Show every November, is traditionally drawn by six horses provided by Whitbread.

Step forward Young's. It still has its dray-pulling horses, and has offered them to the City Corporation from 1998 onwards.

The Corporation says it is delighted, while John Young, chairman of Young's, says: "We have used horses at the brewery since my great-great-grandfather founded the business in 1831 and we still have 20 in our stables, mainly Shires but also Percherons, Suffolk Punches and Clydesdales. We are proud to be given this opportunity to pull the Lord Mayor's coach."

Perusing a list of "the best barristers at the Junior Bar" in the latest issue of Legal Business, the mag for City lawyers, I came upon one Joe Smouha, aged 34. The mag says he is "Triple A rated: assertive, aggressive, ambitious. He has personality to burn ... very focused."

Cripes. Young Joe, the mag adds, is "the kind of guy who turns up for two minutes at a party and will have six other parties to go to". How tiring.

He has also had to steer well clear of working on BCCI, the crashed bank, since his father, Brian Smouha, a partner with accountants Deloitte & Touche, was until recently one of the main liquidators of the bank. BCCI was shut down by regulators six years ago after frauds worth over $10bn were discovered.

Mr Smouha senior was particularly adept at negotiating with the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi and his representatives - the Sheikh owned 77 per cent of BCCI when it was shut, and played a key role in providing compensation to creditors.

There is one way in which young Joe has followed in his father's footsteps, however; he has acted for the bondholders in the Barings Bank collapse. Sorting out collapsed banks obviously runs in the family.

Bill Murphy, BT director of corporate clients, has resigned as a director of Display IT, the troubled on-line information company.