Pembroke: Arbuthnot Latham prepares a comeback

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The Independent Online
One of Britain's oldest banking names, with a history stretching back at least to the early 19th century, is set for a grand re-entrance. Arbuthnot Latham, which faded from the scene three years ago when it handed back its licence to the Bank of England, is to be born again thanks to a Swiss banker, Henry Angest.

Mr Angest, a low-profile financier who runs the financial services group Secure Trust, yesterday paid pounds 3.2m for the Aitken Hume bank. He plans to rename it Arbuthnot Latham and continue its business servicing private customers.

The move completes what must be a pleasing circle for Mr Angest. In 1985 he led a management buyout of Secure Homes - later renamed Secure Trust - from Arbuthnot. Now he is buying his old overlords, having already acquired the rights to the bank's name in 1991.

Mr Angest is adamant that the Arbuthnot name is worth reviving. 'Arbuthnot has a long history and is a perfectly good name to continue with,' he insists.

STEVEN BELL, pounds 100,000 chief economist at Morgan Grenfell, is going to be consulting his tube map quite a bit in the future. The 40-year-old high-flyer has been fined pounds 750 with costs and been disqualified from driving for 16 months after driving his Porsche with excess alcohol.

Mr Bell, who hails from Dulwich in south London, was stopped in Streatham in March and found to be over the limit. The crestfallen economist, who pleaded guilty to the offence, was tight-lipped on the issue yesterday. 'I'd rather not talk about it,' he said.'

SHOP STAFF at Laura Ashley, the floral frock and fancy wallpaper retailer which issues its results today, must be feeling pretty fed up at the moment.

The impending departure of chief executive Jim Maxmin, which was announced earlier this week, is no doubt unsettling but the shop floor staff are disgruntled about another issue. They did not receive last month's salary cheques when they should have done.

March's wages were supposed to have been paid on the Thursday before Easter, but did not actually clear until the Tuesday afterwards.

Mr Maxmin explained the situation to staff and arranged a banking facility to help over the Easter break, with promises of recompense if the cock-up caused employees to go overdrawn and incur bank charges. Laura Ashley management says the error is not their fault.

The company uses an outside payroll agency to administer salaries and the mistake, Laura Ashley says, lies at the agency's door. That may make management feel better, but it won't help morale on the shop floor much.

PETER BOIZOT, the hockey-loving jazz enthusiast who founded Pizza Express, sold pounds 2m worth of shares yesterday and is already making plans for the dough. He has splashed out on a painting - a nice little daubing of Peterborough Cathedral with his much- loved Great Northern Hotel nestling alongside. And, he says, his pet hockey club, the Hampstead and Westminster, might benefit from a few new sticks.

St Catherine's, his old Cambridge college, is also in his thoughts. 'I sold the shares because I thought I ought to get a bit more liquid,' he says.

(Photograph omitted)

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