PEOPLE & BUSINESS

MIKE THOMPSON is giving up the job of finance director at Bass Leisure after four years to join Marston Thompson & Evershed, the one remaining big-name brewer based only in Burton on Trent, the birthplace of many famous brewing names and still the brewing capital of Britain. He is teaming up again with Marston's chief executive, Nick Letchet, who left Bass for Marstons last year and stepped up to chief executive in February.

Mike tells me he is not related to the original Thompson family whose brewery merged with Marstons in1898. But Marstons still regards itself as a traditional family-based company. The brewery's Burton Union rooms were described by real ale pundit Roger Protz as the cathedral of British brewing and Michael Hurdle, the current chairman, is the fourth member of his family to be chairman in the last 100 years.

AS PART of its contribution to the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month, Guardian Insurance is taking on the responsibility for insuring pounds 14m worth of historic racing cars being flown from America by Lufthansa for the occasion. It will be the most comprehensive line-up of IndyCars ever seen in the UK. They include two cars - one a Peugeot the other an Isotta Fraschini - which took part in the 1913 IndyCar 500 just two years after the race was initiated, as well as the V8 supercharged 1946 Novi Governor Special. The cars will be accompanied by some of their most famous drivers including Mario Andretti, Al Unser Snr, Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan.

CHARLES ANSON, the former diplomat and merchant banker (with Kleinwort Benson) and long-time press secretary to HM the Queen (from 1990 to February last year), is moving on again. He joined Grand Metropolitan as group corporate relations director just prior to the merger with Guinness which formed Diageo. Now I hear that he will become head of communications at the European Broadcasting Union on July 20.

The EBU has far outgrown the continent of Europe and now has 66 members in 49 countries including East and West Africa and the Middle East. Its main tasks are to negotiate broadcasting rights for top sporting and suchlike events on behalf of its members, organise the exchange of TV and radio programmes between its members and foster the co-production of programmes.

TWIN headlines leap out from the front page of the Weir Bulletin, the bi-monthly journal of the Glasgow-based engineering group. Banner headlines proclaim that "the group is on course," and operating profits are "much in line with last year". It also reveals that Lord Weir, the executive chairman is to retire. Lord Weir has agreed to accept the new position of honorary president, he will be replaced as chairman by the current managing director, Sir Ron Garrick, and the search is now on for a successor to Sir Ron. Applications please to Sir Ron in Glasgow, not to me.

I HAVE been invited to attend Invest 98, billed as the most exciting private investor event of the year, to be held on 6 June at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. This one-day event, hosted by Barclays Stockbrokers, will, I am assured, provide delegates with the opportunity to share the stock market secrets of some of the world's leading investment experts and participate in conference sessions using the latest interactive technology.

The speakers include Mary Buffett, former daughter-in-law of Warren Buffett, the world famous investor who makes decisions that move global markets from the depths of Nebraska, and author of Buffettology, a guide to the techniques he uses. Other speakers include Trevor McDonald, the TV anchorman and apparently a latter-day Samuel Smiles, and Brian Maher, voted by institutional investors as the best technical analyst in the UK for six years in a row.

Richard Wilson, aka Victor Meldrew, will present the mandatory "alternative view" on the stock market. There should be something there for everyone.

HOT NEWS from the fast-food jungle, where research from Euromonitor reveals that Americans spent $376 a head on fast food last year, closely followed by Canadians. Japanese are the third biggest consumers and Brits come fourth, spending the equivalent of $63 a head. Neither sushi nor fish and chips has been able to fight off the invasion, although the research shows the fast food chains have had to adapt menus to assimilate national tastes.

Italy, the home of the pizza, has proved the most resistant to foreign fast food, according to Euromonitor's Valerio Capo, spending a miserable $8 a head, forcing McDonalds, whose growth policy at least is organic, to buy businesses to build its market share.

TONY RUDSTON, chief executive of BPC since 1996 and a man with 40 years' experience of the printing industry, has been confirmed as chief executive of Webinvest, the holding company formed to acquire and merge BPC and Watmoughs. Jim Brown will be finance director.

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