Pembroke: The game of the name at HSBC

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The Independent Online
Is Midland Bank's parent, HSBC, planning to change its name?

A change was first mooted when the merger with what was then known as Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was being discussed.

Midland commissioned design consultants Wolff Olins to dream up a new name but the corporate identity specialists offered such gems as Tradewinds and Mercator, which sound like travel agents, and Compass (for the bank that's lost its way?)

Not surprisingly, Willie Purves, HSBC's chairman, threw out the lot.

Now rumours of a more identifiable name for the group are resurfacing and HSBC execs are taking soundings. What money on Hongkong Midland Group?

Stoy Hayward, the accountancy firm trying to rebuild its reputation after putting its name to the Polly Peck accounts, has suffered another blow. Brian Friedman, who carved out a valuable niche for the firm in employee benefits and remuneration consultancy, is jumping ship to join Arthur Andersen where, as a partner, he will establish an international benefits consultancy to rival his old employers.

Arthur Andersen is believed to have been keen on muscling in on the area for some time.

Reading between the lines, Stoy Hayward seems to have got a little grumpy over the move. Though Mr Friedman has not yet set a date for his departure, it has replaced him with Stoy tax partner Martin Kaye, with immediate effect.

Roger Levitt, the disgraced financier who was given 180 hours community service last week, is back to his old ways already. He is attending Arsenal matches. The luxuriantly moustached wheeler-dealer, whose company used to have an executive box at Highbury, was spotted at Saturday's game against Newcastle. Not one to pass over a privilege, he was seated in someone else's executive box.

Britain's 17,000 Braille readers will be able to catch up on newspaper coverage of today's Budget courtesy of a Braille Budget Special sponsored by Abbey National. Broadcasting Supplies Services of Cardiff is offering a free compilation of Budget articles from the papers.

This year's Budget is of particular interest to the visually impaired as the introduction of VAT on newspapers and magazines would include VAT on Braille, which is classed as a print publication.

The sponsors expect to send out 400 Budget specials, which, I understand, is about the same number that a Braille edition of a Catherine Cookson bestseller would shift.

Janet de Botton (above), the eldest daughter of Lord Wolfson, the chairman of Great Universal Stores, has joined Christie's, the auctioneers, as a non-executive director.

Neil Stapley, the champion of wider share ownership who left NatWest Markets in September to pursue the proverbial other interests, has already reappeared. Having intended to get down to some gardening, he has thrown the spade away to start at Charles Schwab & Co, the American discount broker that set up shop in the UK last year.

As managing director of the Europe and Middle East regions, his brief is to expand the business beyond US expats who currently make up most of it.

This is good news on the City job front. Mr Stapley says he is looking to recruit a top-flight team from various brokers, including NatWest Markets.

(Photograph omitted)

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