Pembroke: Nice Woodwork

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The Independent Online
WHY IS IT that the filthy lucre seems to throw itself at people who need it least? Peter Wood, mega-wad chief executive of Direct Line insurance, has already made more money than anyone who works in Croydon could hope to spend. Yet more piles up.

Yesterday he invested pounds 7.5m of his pile in Royal Bank of Scotland, which owns Direct Line. Mr Wood bought shares in three tranches at prices ranging from 402p to 412p. After a set of good results, the shares romped home to close at 428p, netting him a paper gain of more than pounds 400,000. A good day's work, even for someone who earned pounds 42m last year.

IF PETER WOOD doesn't need any more money, Iain Vallance certainly doesn't need any more degrees. But next Monday the BT chairman will get another one, this time courtesy of Kingston Poly, sorry University. This will bring his total to five.

Mr Vallance already has bona fide degrees from Oxford (BA English) and London Business School (MSc), plus an honorary degree from the University of Ulster and an honorary doctorate in technology from Loughborough. Now Kingston feels industrialist merits another. The reason, it says, is a long-standing relationship. Kingston says its businesss school ran courses to help BT managers in the transition from public sector slothdom, to plc perkiness. Oh, and they admire him enormously too.

DAVID BELL, managing director of the Financial Times, was surveying his new domain at Extel yesterday following Pearson's takeover. He found a few familiar faces. Extel's managing director, Martin Brooks, used to be director of FT business information. Gavin Shreeve, Extel's managing editor, is a former editor of the Banker, one of the FT's magazines. 'There are a few others around but they all seem to be quite happy with it,' an Extel spokesman said.

EVERYTHING'S going right for Gus Fischer, the new chief executive at News International. Not only has he taken over the chief exec slot from Andrew Knight, who has to content himself with the chairmanship, but he has just bought a pounds 1.5m house in Egerton Gardens in Knightsbridge in London, after selling his, by all accounts, enormous flat near Baker Street for pounds 1.25m. This is no doubt a cause of some grief to the urbane Mr Knight. He is still trying to sell his house in Well Road, Hampstead, for pounds 1.5m.

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ABBEY NATIONAL has shown what its staff do at lunchtime by waltzing off with the City Monopoly challenge for the second year running. Coopers & Lybrand had been the favourites, but couldn't get their act together on the night. The event raised more than pounds 20,000 for the Children with Leukaemia charity, and each team member won a pair of Monopoly braces and boxer shorts, courtesy of Austin Reed. Tasteful, n'est ce pas?

BILL TURCAN, chief exec-in- waiting at Harrisons & Crosfield, the plantations and chemicals group, tells me that his children have grown out of calling him Daddy. They have taken to calling him Harcros instead, after the company's builders' merchants division.

Is this part of a trend? A bottle of champagne for anyone who can confirm that Asil Nadir answers to Polly. And if so, what do Richard Branson's nearest and dearest call him?