PEOPLE & BUSINESS

QUENTIN DAVIES, Tory MP for Stamford and Spalding, threw a tantrum yesterday at the Treasury Select Committee hearings into the single European currency.

The MPs, including Mr Davies, were grilling another committee made up of leading businessmen, who have been asked by the Government to advise on preparations for a single currency. These businessmen include Andrew Buxton, chairman of Barclays Bank, John Monks, chief executive of MY Holdings and Lord Simons, government minister at the DTI.

Yesterday's session rapidly turned into something of an interrogation of Mr Buxton, as Mr Davies harried the Barclays man relentlessly over all sorts of issues. Finally Mr Davies appeared to tire of his harangues, put on his coat and made to leave the room.

Whereupon he was summoned by the chairman of the Treasury committee, Giles Radice, Labour MP for Durham North. A heated discussion between the chairman and Mr Davies ensued, which culminated in Mr Davies throwing his coat to the floor and slumping back into his chair.

Mr Buxton's erstwhile inquisitor then told the assembly that he was "a paid adviser to NatWest Bank". One can only speculate what then passed through the Barclays boss's mind. Barclays and NatWest have been at daggers drawn ever since NatWest rebuffed Barclays' merger overtures several months ago.

So who grassed Mr Davies up? Step forward Charles Clarke, Labour MP for Norwich South, who was earlier seen handing a note to Mr Radice about Mr Davies's advisory role.

At least Mr Buxton could reflect that politics is one of the few professions that makes banking look respectable.

TO THE presentation of KPMG's annual report, a lively affair following the rejection of the proposed merger with Ernst & Young.

Mike Rake, UK chief operating officer, was about to begin his presentation, when Colin Sharman, senior partner of KPMG, attempted to alter the lighting in the room and succeeded in switching all the lights out. Mr Rake quipped: "I've been in the dark for the last six months anyway," to guffaws from the assembled hacks. Whether Mr Sharman, not noted for his sense of humour, appreciates Mr Rake's remark remains to be seen.

SOME FOOD analysts are on the move: former ABN Amro food retail analyst James Martin started work at CSFB on Monday, and his ABN colleague James Edward-Jones will join him in April.

Meanwhile the highly rated Michael Bourke, food manufacturing analyst, has left Panmures to join Rabobank, the latest continental outfit with arguably more guilders than sense to start throwing money at investment banking in London. The Dutch mutual aims to grow its broking operations fast, I'm told. Get your CVs in now.

SIR JOHN HARVEY-JONES emerged from a session of psychometric tests this week with flying colours. Recruitment group Devonshire had the former ICI boss along to open their new London offices, and took the chance to put the retired industrialist to the test.

The results showed Sir John to be "energetic, creative and focused on the achievement of immediate objectives."

Roy Webb, managing director of Devonshire, warned, however, that such creative types "can become targets of critical attack from others who are uncomfortable with their boundless energy and achievements and who feel threatened by their constant challenging of the status quo which causes regular changes in the system."

BERNARD ASHER has a number of strings to his bow other than being head of HSBC Investment Bank. He is also a non-executive director of Remy Cointreau and Randgold Resources, as well as being a governor of the London School of Economics. Yesterday he added to this list by joining specialist construction group Morgan Sindall as a non-exec. Where does he get the time?

PRUDENTIAL-BACHE Securities (UK) has poached Graham Elliott, 39, from Dean Witter to be its head of US institutional equity sales. Mr Elliott graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, and moved from Shell (UK) to Merrill Lynch and then Dean Witter. His chief claim to fame, however, is that in the height of the 1980s boom he was a keyboard player with Gordon and the Gekkos, a band inspired by the character of the same name from the film Wall Street.

HAVE YOU ever tried that Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru? No, neither have I. But the Russians seem to like it. Barr Soft Drinks, makers of the said Bru, have signed a deal with some American investors to set up a plant in Russia which will produce 27 million litres of drinks and mineral water in its first year.

The drinks are going to be manufactured in a former aircraft warehouse, leased from Yakovlev, Russia's largest aircraft producer. Former aviation engineers will be flown to the UK to retrain at Barr's sites as bottling plant engineers. I'm sure sales will take off (sorry).

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