Pembroke: Reece smooths path to MMC for British Gas

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The Independent Online
Sir Gordon Reece, former director of publicity at Conservative Central Office and one-time adviser to Baroness Thatcher, has been working behind the scenes for British Gas. It is understood he was seconded on to the team that helped present the company's case to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

The results of the MMC's deliberations are keenly awaited. It remains to be seen whether the arch smoother and fixer has deflected the fire and brimstone of Sir James McKinnon, the departing Ofgas director-general who wants British Gas broken up.

Nothing is being left to chance at the grand opening of Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) on 4 June. Guests have been given arrival times to the nearest minute - 10.21am rather than 10am or 10.30am. They have been told how to dress - ladies are not required to wear hats. The most intriguing instruction reads: 'Although we are extremely grateful for the kindness and support shown to us, we do not expect gifts on this occasion.'

On what occasion, one wonders, do they expect gifts?

How to measure advertising success? The Prudential's four-year I want to be . . . campaign has spawned several spoofs. The latest is from Christian Aid, whose television ads run back to back with the Pru's. The charity had the grace to ask first whether the Pru objected. As it was all in a good cause the Pru acquiesced.

The same courtesy was not shown by Eagle Star (Be more than a wannabe), Rory Bremner, Jeremy Beadle and all the others who have poked fun at the Pru.

Forget the foot in the door. Debt collectors have spruced up their image. P&J Consumer Debt Services reports from Hemel Hempstead that it has been awarded certification under British Standard 5750. Managing partner Phillip McGarvey believes certification to an internationally recognised standard is one way to counter the unfavourable perception of debt collectors. Another way might be to grant a general amnesty.

A new word enters the vocabulary of the property world courtesy of Peter Hunt, chairman and managing director of Land Securities. A number of its offices have been 'debuilt' - a euphemism for ripping out essential services from empty properties to avoid business rates. It used to be called demolition.