Pembroke: Lessons from the dust-up at Cedar

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The Independent Online
THOSE GORDON brothers are everywhere. David, chief executive of the Economist, is about to take up the same post at ITN. Not to be outdone, Charles Gordon's second book, The Cedar Story, is published on 13 April (Sinclair-Stevenson, pounds 18.99). The book is based on the dramatic rescue in 1973 of Cedar Holdings, the secondary bank where he worked until two years before the Bank of England bale-out.

True, Mr Gordon's version of the story comes 20 years after the event, but it still offers lessons for today. It's a pity, for example, that Hoover executives weren't able to read pages 183-4 - where the reader learns that Cedar's management lost crucial credibility by launching a 'gifts campaign, specifically to attract deposits' - before they planned their free flights jamboree.

THE COLLAPSE of the Soviet Union has prompted much discussion on a new name for the British-Soviet Chamber of Commerce, which used to promote trade between the two countries. Michael Hall, executive director, tells the troops in his latest bulletin that they hope to 'adopt the short-form contraction 'BSCC' by which we have been known for so long'. A sensible decision. But Mr Hall warns: 'When asked, and to save any embarrassment that might just exist, we will deny (our italics) the initials stand for anything at all as from the date of the change.' Is this entirely sane?

IT COULD happen to us all. A mangled advertisement for a company called John Nicholson Associates appeared in the Times of 1 April, and therein lies a saga. According to the ad, JNA, a business psychology consultancy, was seeking a director capable of delivering memorable presentations. The ad, strewn with grammatical and spelling errors, was certainly memorable. JNA was apparently offering a negotiable 'salaray' for an exceptional 'invidual'. Britain appeared as 'Britian', business as 'busisess', handling 'handlong' and evaluation as 'evaluaion'.

The irony is that the illiterate advertisement had already appeared in the Sunday Times. JNA, understandably furious since its operation is all about high-quality management, demanded its money back. The subsequent refund was accompanied by a goodwill offer to reprint the ad in the Times. The rest is history.

YOU MAY recall that in a recent survey of the business press, Barclays Bank cruised to victory as the company most commentators love to hate with an impressive negative score of 7,442 points. National Westminster was not far behind, with minus 5,883. Now we learn that Sir Peter Middleton, Barclays' deputy chairman, will deliver a lecture this month with the apposite title: 'When will the City learn to communicate?' When, indeed.