People & Business: Chip off the old block had an auspicious start to life

I had not realised until now that Sir Chips Keswick, chairman of Hambros Bank, got his Christian name because he was conceived on a Chippendale.

Whether this was a Chippendale chaise-longue or chair is not clear, although I am happy to provide a picture of an example of the 18th-Century master craftsman's handiwork. Who knows, this may be the very chair.

Andrew Regan's failed bid for the Co-op throws up other strange stories. The two corporate financiers who opposed each other in the bid battle once worked with each other, or at least for the same bank.

Peter Large, the Hambros man who advised Mr Regan on the bid, was until September 1995 the managing director of SBC Warburg's corporate finance arm. This was just after the merger of SG Warburg and SBC in July 1995. And of course Brian Keelan, who has been advising the Co-op during the fracas, has been with SBC since 1989. He is now managing director of corporate finance at the merged bank.

With Mr Keelan victorious and Mr Large awaiting the outcome of the various enquiries into the Regan affair, I wonder if the former colleagues will still be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

Apcims, the Association of Private Client Investment Managers & Stockbrokers, has announced the retirement of founder chairman John Cobb and appointment of his successor, Michael Read of Greig Middleton.

Mr Cobb, 65, said yesterday: "Since our founding seven years ago, we have fought many battles on major issues such as Taurus, Rolling Settlement and Crest. We have opposed the excesses of the regulators, have promoted our members' services and defended their interest in an institutionally- dominated world."

Mr Read, 54, is a founder director of Greig Middleton, now the UK's largest retail stockbroker. He heads the investment management department, with pounds 7.5bn under management.

He is also the fifth generation of his family to be a stockbroker. Hopefully this will help him deal with the expected avalanche of share deals from the current splurge of building society flotations.

My thanks to Barry Lloyd of Saffron Waldon, Essex, for the following missive: "I noted that in the party political broadcast by Tony Blair he made coffee in his kitchen in a Cable TV industry mug.

"Is the Labour Party now accepting product placements and if so was this not rather misplaced considering Mr Blair has promised his support to BT?"

Mathew Ponsonby, senior associate director of Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, is in charge of the Halifax flotation. Future shareholders may like to know that he has a distinguished heritage.

One of Mr Ponsonby's ancestors was a cavalry officer at the Battle of Waterloo. Sitting on his horse near the Duke of Wellington, commander of the allied forces arrayed against Napoleon, Ponsonby's leg was blown off by a cannonball. Looking down he exclaimed: "By God Sir, I've lost my leg."

To which the Iron Duke, unperturbed, replied: "By God sir, so you have."

I believe another Ponsonby ancestor participated in the Charge of the Light Brigade, although I expect the dialogue wasn't quite as good. No doubt the present Mr Ponsonby's efforts will be more successful, if not so glorious.

"The Romance of Buried Treasure" is a fascinating chapter from The Art of Speculation, a book by Wall Street investment guru Philip L Carret.

It was obviously written with recent mining share scandals such as Bre- X in mind, where thousands of investors lost out when mining investments went wrong.

Mr Carret writes: "Victims of the financial underworld, the proverbial widows and orphans who place their funds in worthless securities, are prone to select mining and oil stocks as the vehicles of their misfortunes. There is undeniably a certain glamour about the adventure of extracting its mineral wealth from the earth's crust."

The book was written in 1930 and is being reissued as an investment classic. As far as throwing money at holes in the ground goes, however, it proves that nothing changes.

United News & Media has promoted Gerry Wilton chief executive of its broking companies, Harlow Butler and Garban. In addition to his previous responsibilities for the broking businesses in Europe and Asia he will now add the businesses in North and South America. Although Lord Hollick's company may be best known for its Express newspaper titles, it also owns the largest integrated money and securities broking group in the world.

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