Pembroke: Secure in spirit

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The Independent Online
AS DISCONSOLATE workers from Hongkong and Shanghai Bank pick their way through the rubble, they may wish they had been based at the bank's other premises in Thames Exchange. Particularly since those offices are said to enjoy an individual ring of protection - they were, word has it, the first in the capital to be given the once- over by a feng shui operative. (Feng shui is Chinese geomancy, where physical components in an environment are rearranged to attract good influences and deter evil.)

Mayhem apparently followed the feng shui inspection. Desks were rearranged. Fish tanks popped up everywhere because water is said to prevent bad spirits moving from one part of the floor to another. Tubs of greenery also appeared in unexpected places, as vegetation is believed to deflect bad vibrations and to encourage good luck.

'It would not do,' said a bank person last week, 'if there was a bad spirit sitting under the chief treasury manager.' Quite. Or even a fertiliser-laden truck outside.

Yesterday, queries to the press office of another resident of the building, James Capel, met with stiff denials. 'We know nothing about this matter,' said a spokeswoman. We still anticipate a City- led rush for feng shui consultations.

THE BOSS of the Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, a Mr Masuzawa, came over from the Far East to inspect their new Bishopsgate offices yesterday - and left a disappointed man.

THE ELEVATION of Jan Leschly, former Wimbledon tennis ace, to chief executive at SmithKline Beecham, will be one in the eye for Ernst Mario, kicked out as Glaxo's chief exec last month. The men were once sparring partners at the US drug group, Squibb, until Mr Leschly became chief executive and Dr Mario decided to jump to Glaxo. When Squibb was taken over by Bristol Myers, Mr Leschly, in turn, decided upon a career- enhancing move to SKB.

His extra months at Squibb left him lagging behind Dr Mario, who was promoted to chief executive of Glaxo. But Dr Mario is now cooling his heels. Leschly wins game, set and match.

ARE YOU an 'extremophile'? A missive from the Science and Engineering Research Council reveals that extremophiles are organisms that live life at the edge, under 'extreme conditions' and 'high pressures'. The SERC says these 'bizarre creatures . . . are not just scientific curiosities'. Of course they're not. They're the poor sods who work 16 hours a day for US investment banks.