The City Diary: Oil firm seeks lawyers – must enjoy hard work

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The Independent Online

Fancy a career at America's least favourite oil group? BP is searching for a clutch of lawyers to join it in Texas – the scene of one of the group's most infamous disasters, which killed 15 workers and injured many more in 2005.

The successful candidates will join a team wrestling with brimming in-trays – as the explosion at the oil company's Texas City refinery still accounts for a weighty chunk of the three full pages of legal proceedings (additional to the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe) published with BP's results last week.

One case affects a 2007 plea agreement between the US Department of Justice and BP, under which the DoJ agreed "not to bring additional criminal charges against BP Products [North America] in connection with the March 2005 explosion". But now the group stands accused of "certain air emissions and reporting violations" that "may violate [that] plea agreement". It contests the allegations, but does this raise the spectre of more criminal charges, I ask? "I couldn't make any comment," says a spokesman.

Still, it should keep all those new lawyers busy. Part of their job description includes "conducting internal investigations related to violations of company policies".

Tricky timing for post-crash treatise

Oh, the wiles of canny publishers. Among the post-crash treatises last year came The Road from Ruin by The Economist's US business editor Matthew Bishop and Michael Green. It was published in the US with the subtitle: "How to Revive Capitalism and Put America Back on Top", but now the UK version is out, its pro-American sub-header clearly grates a touch. No matter, the spinners have come up with a new line: "A New Capitalism for a Big Society".

Hmm. Pilfering David Cameron's words certainly gets around the issue of claiming to know how to stop Britain's slump, but the timing could have been better. Lord Wei, the PM's Big Society (BS) tsar, has just scaled back his role. He concluded that working for free three days a week is incompatible with "having a life".

Write a biog? Digby fixes Britain instead

On a similar theme, I hear Lord (Digby) Jones, former trade minister and director-general of the CBI, is to release his own manual on recession recovery called Fixing Britain: The Business of Reshaping Our Nation. It was co-written by erstwhile Sky News business editor Michael Wilson, who, unlike some others, left the broadcaster without getting embroiled in a sexism scandal. I have no doubt it will be worth a read, as My Lord's views on such matters are typically rather robust. But it does mean plans to write an autobiography have been shelved. "A lot of the biographical details are in this book," says Wilson.

No sex please – I want to let my apartment

Nouriel Roubini, the unfailingly gloomy economist who'll forever be remembered as the chap who predicted the credit crunch, is the main speaker at Mipim, the annual property industry boondoggle in Cannes. He's a good enough name to headline at a business conference, but is he the right choice for the "the world's premier real estate event for professionals"? Roubini's just predicted that US banks could face another $1trn (£620bn) in housing losses, while he's been having a spot of bother in the sector himself. Having failed to sell his apartment for $1.8m in Tribeca, lower Manhattan, the pad has been put up to rent for a snip at $7,600 per month. If that seems steep, potential tenants should be aware of vital enhancements that the economist has made: I hear he's removed his infamous erotic plaster sculptures, which were dotted all over the walls.

Krafty Kiernan must be a good loser

Will Lazard's Peter Kiernan really be that disappointed at ending up on the losing side in Edward Bramson's successful campaign to oust the chairman of F&C Investments, Nick MacAndrew? Picking a winner tends to cause the banker more trouble. Kiernan infamously advised Kraft on how to gobble up Cadbury, which cost him the chance of becoming director-general of the Takeover Panel (which criticised Kraft's conduct during the battle). Things took an even worse turn last month when Kiernan acquired a new colleague at his bank in Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary. Mandy was another critic of the Kraft swoop. Might F&C be a good one to lose?

Ladbrokes beware, it's Lady Betfair

I see that Baroness (Denise) Kingsmill, the lawyer and former deputy chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, has just been appointed to the board of Betfair (the recently floated betting exchange with which I'm obsessed). Cue much speculation that the firm may bid for a rival and cause a UK regulator's eyebrow to arch. Betfair insiders insist it's her overseas regulatory experience that was the clincher.

Still, Lady Kingsmill has other encouraging form which was no doubt attractive to the betting exchange, which has irritated the high-street bookies since it was founded in 2000. During Kingsmill's spell at the MMC she made an astonishing personal attack on Ladbrokes' then chief executive, Peter George, calling him "pathetic and grizzling".

One PR manager who’s a good sport

Stephanie Aneto is the PR manager for accountants Grant Thornton by day – and a top-class triple jumper by weekend. This is her in action for Woodford Green Athletics Club with Essex Ladies – which I reckon is a slightly better standard of competition than is usually found at your average accounting firm's sports day. I read that Aneto has Commonwealth Games standard jumps behind her, although her fans tell me that she hasn't been spotted landing in a sand pit much of late. Still, might there be a comeback, I ask?

"Yes, I am a triple jumper," she begins. "Well kind of, as I'm not competing at the moment. But I am keeping fit for possible competitions later this year".

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