Pembroke: Boredom fuels recovery

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The Independent Online
SO IT'S TRUE. The rich are different to hoi polloi. Paul Whitfield, deputy chairman of Bonhams (auctioneer to the aristocracy), writing in the house magazine of Savills (estate agent to the aristocracy), concludes airily that the 'corner has been turned' in the art market. Why? 'People are, quite simply, bored with the effects of recession.'

SIR PAUL NICHOLSON, chairman of Vaux Group, has a novel alternative to brokers' hold, buy and sell recommendations on his company - 'cursed'. Yesterday he noted that hostile investors in Vaux have included Brent Walker, Queens Moat Houses, Pleasurama and Sir Ron Brierley. And Sunderland Football Club, which is sponsored by the company, only just escaped the 'Curse of Vaux'. The club avoided relegation to the Second Division by a single point.

Now that Costain has pulled out of property development (save its Spitalfields site, which is destined to remain a car park for most of this century), who better to take over from Peter Sawdy as chairman than - a property developer. Mind you, MEPC, where Sir Christopher Benson stands down as chairman in July, has done very little developing in recent years, concentrating on cutting its debt mountain. That should stand him in good stead at Costain where, despite a string of asset sales, debt still exceeds net


THE GOVERNMENT has begun the search to replace Sir James McKinnon as director- general of Ofgas by appointing an adviser who apparently enjoyed his first advice-seeking meeting with Sir James yesterday. After the bitter and often public battles Ofgas has fought with British Gas, nailing a willing candidate is not likely to be easy. With a Monopolies and Mergers report on British Gas expected this summer, it could be one long, hot search.

RIVAL PR nightmares clashed yesterday at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen received a gold coronation crown from Norman 'Je ne regrette rien' Lamont. At least, that's what the private audience was supposed to be about. Bet they took the opportunity to swap notes.