People & Business

To Le Meridien, the delightful Piccadilly hotel, for breakfast with John Wriglesworth the former building society analyst, Bradford & Bingley marketing director and all-round pundit. The great man immediately demands Marmite, saying "you probably don't have any", whereupon a waiter suavely produces a shiny new pot of the savoury comestible.

Mr Wriglesworth tells me his old pal Rod Thomas, who replaced him as building society analyst at UBS, is now facing the awful prospect of working with all his ex-colleagues again, what with the merger with SBC Warburg.

Nigel Grinyer has timed things rather better. The specialist salesman on the financials desk at UBS signed his transfer to ABN Amro Hoare Govett on the very day that the merger with SBC was announced.

Mr Wriglesworth himself has enjoyed his year since leaving Bradford & Bingley by advising various institutions on the merits of mutuality. He is now pondering a return to the City, this time as a corporate adviser. It could all come to nought, however, depending on the political scene: "If Britain joins the European Monetary Union, I'm emigrating," says Mr Wriglesworth.

And while the conversion frenzy in the building society sector may now be over, Mr Wriglesworth still tips the Skipton to demutualise. I'm just off to open an account now.

So what are they going to called SBC/UBS? The original idea, United Bank of Switzerland, has been scuppered by the discovery of a small Swiss bank called United Bank of Zurich.

It now looks as if the UBS name might be preserved after all, along with its logo. A definite decision will have to wait for the shareholders' meeting on 3 February. My suggestion is United Gnomes of Zurich.

Another title which has already been taken by somebody else, I notice, is Gnomes of Switzerland, the name of a hairdresser in City Road, just off Finsbury Square in the City. Perhaps SBC could buy them out and open a coiffure subsidiary.

Another name problem. Frank Lowe wants to leave the PR firm he co-founded with Tim Bell, necessitating a replacement for Lowe Bell. The latest suggestion around town is Lowe Pottinger, which recognises the sterling contributions of Mr Bell's number two, Piers Pottinger. Sounds good. After all, Lowe Piers would give off the wrong signals.

David Simons, chief executive of Somerfield, the supermarket chain formerly known as Gateway, is keen to scotch rumours that he might move on from the company after a relatively short period (five years) to fulfil ambitions elsewhere.

So keen, in fact, that he has bought a farm 20 minutes from the company's head office in Bristol. The farm is at Failand in north Somerset, and needs a lot of work before it is habitable, says Mr Simons. Refurbishing the farmhouse to his standards will take at least a year, he reckons.

Mr Simons admits he is more used to pinstripes than green wellies and a Barbour, but he is confident he is up to raising livestock. The bucolic retailer declares: "I like the West Country, I'm enjoying it." Don't step in anything nasty.

United Assurance is in a bit of a pickle. It has just announced some truly awful trading figures, and it still hasn't found a new chief executive to replace George Mack.

The poor figures are partly due to the merger between United Friendly and Refuge back in October 1996. If you fancy having a bash, send your CV to Refuge House, Alderley Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Andrew Dilnot and his cohorts at the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) weren't too upset when Gordon Brown borrowed their idea of a Green Budget last year.

But insiders at the IFS, which has just published its own 16th Green Budget, are slightly miffed that the Chancellor has even copied the IFS's trademark binding for the document, a white cover with wavy green lines down the side. Perhaps Mr Dilnot should take a leaf out of Alan Clark's book, and send Mr Brown a writ alleging "passing off."

Anyone fancy a freebie to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this March? A group of African states have got together to launch an international conference to attract global capital to the continent. It will be called the Addis Forum, a sort of "Davos in Africa". The conference will be chaired by Sir William Ryrie, director of ING Barings. I wonder whether it will attract the same level of City support as Davos, however. Is there any skiing in Ethiopia?

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments