Moves to end row over City panel

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Financial Editor

The Corporation of London is to meet a top Treasury official in an effort to defuse a row seen as damaging the City's efforts to promote its image. Michael Cassidy, chairman of the Corporation's influential policy com-

mittee, will hold talks with Angela Knight, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 21 November, about changes to a Treasury panel instituted to promote Britain's financial capital.

The public row, which has provoked anger inside the Treasury, is causing embarrassment to a number of the City's "great and good", brought on to what is known as the Chancellor's promotion panel.

The 20-man panel is dominated by heads of big banks, investment banks and insurance companies, such as Lord Alexander of NatWest Group, Win Bischoff of Schroders, Peter Davies of Prudential and Alastair Ross Goobey of Hermes Investment Management, the fund manager.

The Corporation, one of the most active bodies in promoting the City's financial reputation, has written to Mrs Knight proposing that the panel be widened to include a more representative selection of City institutions and businesses.

Mr Cassidy said: "There is widespread concern in a number of influential City quarters about the way this initiative has been set up.

"We all want it to galvanise the City, and for it to be led by the Treasury, but too many feel left out of the process."

Mr Cassidy cited the Stock Exchange, Lloyd's of London, the Metal Exchange and Liffe, the futures exchange, as bodies that need to be represented. "If we exclude any major market, the whole thing will founder over time and people will rubbish its work," he said. He has sent the Treasury a list of other representatives who wish to be included in the initiative.

The public undermining of what has been a carefully prepared, high-profile panel to bolster the City's standing here and abroad, has caused considerable irritation in the Treasury. The panel has been a year in the making, and there was wide consultation, including with the Corporation, on objectives, structures and membership.