People & Business

Siemens annual UK press conference lived up to expectations yesterday with a fine display of the famous German sense of humour. Last year the company left towels on all the seats in the press room. This year the management put the boot into Britain's footballing prowess.

Bernd Euler, Siemens' UK finance director, said: "Back in 1995 the chances of Britain joining monetary union were about as good as England winning a penalty shoot-out against Germany."

A sharp intake of breath from the journalists was followed by Jurgen Gehrels, Siemens' chief executive, adding that his finance director was "here to make friends".

Mr Gehrels, or "Sir" Jurgen following his honorary knighthood last year, also revealed his intention to retire to be replaced by a Brit for the first time. He is Alan Wood, a born and bred Yorkshireman. Not a decision taken lightly it seems. Mr Gehrels - like Ronald Reagan he cannot use the Sir - is a famous Anglophile who intends to stay in the UK permanently when he becomes Siemens' non- executive chairman.

It turns out that his wife, Sigi, was behind the family's decision to stay in the UK in the late 1980s. "Sir" Jurgen continues: "After two years my wife said, `I'm not going back to Germany'. I was faced with problem: Should I get a new wife? But after 35 years of marriage you get attached."

But "Sir" Jurgen's finest hour came half way through the press conference when he congratulated Siemens on building up its power generation business. He said Walter ("Lord") Marshall, the late former head of the Central Electricity Generating Board, had once said Siemens would get a power plant contract in the UK over his "dead body". Mr Gehrels went on: "Well in the meantime he is dead and we've got a power plant." Alistair Macdonald, Siemens head of press, interjected with a swift plea to reporters that the remark was "Off the record," but too late ...

So who is going to be British Digital Broadcasting's first chief executive? A whole host of media heavyweights have been approached by the joint venture between Carlton and Granada, and a whole host have turned the job down. These refuseniks include Roger Luard of Flextech, Nigel Walmsley, Carlton's managing director of broadcasting, and Steve Grabiner, the former Telegraph boss who now heads United News & Media.

One chap who hasn't rebuffed the headhunters' embraces so far, I hear, is Mike Grabiner, brother of Steve, who has just steered Energis though its successful float.

Perhaps the general lack of enthusiasm for the post, which is supposed to be announced "imminently", is linked to the fact that BDB will be squarely in the sights of Rupert Murdoch's own plans for 200 digital satellite channels. Will no one lead the digital fight against the Digger?

Rupert Pennant-Rea, the man who did for carpets what David Mellor did for the Chelsea strip, has picked up another non-executive chairmanship, this time with a hedge fund company called Key Asset Management. The former deputy governor of the Bank of England is already chairman of the Stationary Office, and is a director of many other companies, including BAT Industries and Sherritt International. A Swede, Thomas Raber, has also joined Key Asset Management as director of marketing.

Key Asset Management was founded just nine years ago and one of its hedge funds, Key Asia Holdings, earnt net returns of 21 per cent last year. It will be interesting to see whether Mr Pennant-Rea and Mr Raber can keep up this impressive performance.

It's normally Midlands metal-bashers who accuse the City of selling British industry short. Now the Bank of England, of all things, has published a working paper titled "Deconstructing Growth in UK Manufacturing." Is the Old Lady finally coming clean?

Bank Austria may be suing Price Waterhouse for pounds 147m in the High Court in London, but still the two institutions can unite to fight money laundering, I am happy to report.

The second annual conference on "Money Laundering in Central and Eastern Europe" is set for 5-6 March in the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Budapest. Its co-chairman will be Aart Bloemheuvel, a partner in Price Waterhouse. The accountancy firm is also prviding a trio of high-powered speakers - Richard Harms, David Gilles and Christof Muller.

Also offering his views on money laundering will be Herbert Preis - from Bank Austria.

I'm sure Mr Preis and the PW boys will have plenty to talk about as they tuck into their Hungarian pastries and quaff their Tokay.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone