Pembroke: Spring's sponge

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The Independent Online
ROY BARBER, a favourite physio sent in by Prudential to apply the old magic sponge to troubled companies, has cropped up yet again - this time at Spring Ram, the kitchens and bathroom outfit, where he is set for a non-executive directorship. Stuart Greenwood, Spring Ram's finance director, has finally got the red card (and a pounds 200,000 payoff) after a profits warning and ensuing share price collapse at the company.

Mr Barber's record as a Fixer is long. He was finance director at Spring Ram's main competitor Magnet, and he turned around Raine Industries, the building company. Other patients have included Astra, the supergun company, although it expired shortly after his arrival. He saved from expiry Thomas Robinson, the engineering company, before selling it on to BM Group, the construction equipment firm.

Interestingly, BM grew rapidly through the 1980s and early 1990s under the direction of Roger Shute - rather like Spring Ram. It foundered, however, last June and the shares, which stood at pounds 4-plus last summer, were 31p yesterday.

EAGLE-EYED investment banks have been piling into Turkey after spotting promising opportunities in the privatisation of the country's post and telephone communications (PTT) system. An excited front-page story in Sabah, Istanbul's mass-circulation newspaper, lists a number of the more famous players. 'Mary Linch' is one - but aside from Ms Linch you should know that also taking part are the gilded boys and girls of 'Golden Socks'.

JUST AS the Economist was settling down under its new editor, Bill Emmott, the executive tier is to be ruffled once more. Only a few days after the departure of former editor Rupert Pennant-Rea - who is to become deputy governor of the Bank of England - the Economist must also cope with the defection of his great friend, the long-serving David Gordon, who was group chief executive. He is replacing Bob Phillis as chief executive at ITN, who in turn has become John Birt's deputy at the BBC. 'I'm sorry to be leaving so soon after Rupert,' Mr Gordon said yesterday, although his departure date is yet to be settled.

Mr Gordon was not one to let his position interfere with his principles. At the beginning of March, the Economist's letters page carried a fearless contribution from a certain David Gordon, deputy chairman of the Periodical Publishers Association, attacking the magazine's view that VAT should be inflicted upon books, magazines and newspapers.