Old boys' boat race lets bankers put their oar in

City Diary
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The Independent Online
Those who fear that the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on Saturday will be dominated by American postgraduates should take heart from this afternoon's Veterans Boat Race. Mature rowers from both universities will race each other for the first half of the course from the Putney Stone to Hammersmith Pier.

It's not because they aren't fit, insists Cambridge's coach, Chris Dalley - "if we went any further spectators would have lost interest."

Amongst Oxford's over-35 crew today are Allan Kirkpatrick, 36, who works for West LB, Steve Plunkett, 42, a deputy managing director of Yamaichi Bank, and Andy Hall, 45, President of PhiBro, an investment subsidiary of Salomon Brothers. Cambridge's cox is Martin Haycock of SBC Warburg, while Dalley himself works at Gammell Kershaw, managing agents at Lloyds of London.

One of the Cambridge crew rowed in the boat which hit a barge and sank - but Dalley isn't saying who.

Lawyers were crowing about their success at a recent quiz evening for "young professionals" in Baker Street, London, when the legal profession ended up with four teams in the top five. A team of property surveyors came joint second, while the best the accountants could do was tenth out of 23 teams - and that was really a bunch of journalists from Accountancy Age, the trade magazine.

One hack defended the bean-counters' performance at the Imry-sponsored evening: "Not many accountants turned up," she said.

Philippe Sacerdot, 36, who has just joined SBC Warburg's Financial Institutions Group, is one of those irritating people who passes every test with flying colours. He got a degree in history from the Sorbonne, a Masters in Law from the same place, squeezed into the incredibly selective Ecole Nationale d'Administration(ENA), and then to cap it all came top of his MBA year at Columbia University Graduate School of Business in 1990.

He's not the only graduate of ENA at SBC Warburg - there's also Jean- Baptiste Toulouse, who works in SBC Warburg's corporate finance department in France.

Justin Urquhart Stewart, business planning director at Barclays Stockbrokers, recalled yesterday how he used to turn up at the old Stock Exchange in his biker's leathers, only to be turned away and told to use the tradesman's entrance. These days he's probably be chairman.

Christopher Sharp, the gruff but popular managing director of Northern Rock Building Society, was asked the inevitable question yesterday - did he have a garden which needed work doing on it? (Northern Rock announced its conversion to plc on the day after Woolwich chief executive Peter Robinson was ousted for - among other things - allegedly using the society's gardeners at his own home.) Mr Sharp replied that his own garden was overgrown and needed weeding. "I will throw my garden open. Anyone's welcome to start work on it."

Mr Sharp then stressed how sorry he was to hear of Mr Robinson's enforced departure from the Woolwich."It's tragic, I've known him for 25 years. He may not be everyone's cup of tea but I have a lot of respect for him."

Incidentally, Mr Robinson lives just two doors down from Lord Nolan, Chairman of the Committee on Public Standards, in Purley, Surrey. Perhaps they should have tea.