People & Business: How Abbey's chairman broke with banking habits

Lord Tugendhat, the virtuous chairman of Abbey National, has a greater interest than usual in the possible deal with National Westminster Bank. His career took him from Cambridge University, where he was President of the Union, to the Financial Times, where he became oil correspondent taking his cue from his distinguished father, Dr Georg Tugendhat, who was one of the oil industry's gurus in the days when gurus were less commonplace than they are now.

While his contemporaries among young Tory hopefuls were standing in by-elections and earning themselves loser tags from which they never recovered, young Tugendhat established himself as an effective communicator on a speaking tour of the US. When the Tory seat of Cities of London & Westminster fell vacant and the supporters of the two leading contenders vetoed the other, Tugendhat was the natural compromise candidate.

Although never a minister, he was Lord Callaghan's choice as UK Commissioner in Brussels when the post fell vacant. The embattled Labour prime minister could not afford to appoint a Labour MP and face a by-election which could have triggered an immediate election and avoided the winter of discontent. But that's another story.

By the time he returned from Brussels in 1985 he had missed the boat for places in Lady Thatcher's Cabinet but he was eminently appointable to British boardrooms. He joined NatWest and in May 1990 was appointed deputy chairman. Sadly for the bank, within a year he had jumped ship to Abbey National when it offered him the job of chairman. Now it has always been an unwritten rule that clearing bankers never poach each other's employees.

Very few people have ever broken this "rule", and Lord Tugendhat is certainly the most senior ever to do so. NatWest is unlikely to bid for the Abbey - after all their market caps are not very different. If the two do decide to merge they will be keen to cement friendly relationships. But I wouldn't bet on Tugendhat as chairman.

Europe's most successful information services company, as CCN modestly styles itself, has changed its name to Experan. The new name was chosen by TRW Information Systems and Services, which CCN bought last November, and after six months hard thinking the board has decided that Experan conveys the right blend of experience and expertise, and the accent on the i emphasises information and doubles as a logo in its own right. It also has the overwhelming advantage it has already been bought and paid for.

These new ersatz names do not come cheap, not least because they have to be processed through every commercial language under the sun to see if they mean something either vulgar or silly. They should also express some sort of association with the company's activities, or at least convey some sort of positive image. Virgin presumably fails one test but passes the other. Even then some of them, Camelot springs to mind, quickly acquire a tarnish rather than a patina of age.

But anything is better than CCN/TRW, not to mention IS&S. This column has anyway long felt the age of initials with their image of austerity and efficiency has outlived its advantages. And as the number of permutations of two and three letter initials gets inexorably used up, so the search for actual names must inevitably increase to satisfy demand.

Even in the age of the car-boot sale when respectable middle-class families (among others) set themselves up as costermongers for the day, buying and selling second-hand goods is not everyone's idea of a growth industry. But Cash Converters, the Australian-based group which has brought the concept of franchising second-hand stores to Britain and recently secured a listing on the London Stock Exchange, has appointed Gary Peters as its chief executive officer.

Mr Peters is a man who thinks the concept has all the ingredients of being the next Blockbuster Video. He should know. He is a former president of grandly named Middle East Development Corporation and, according to his CV, "has 13 years' experience of solid franchise experience, working for top concepts such as Blockbuster Video, and negotiating franchise agreements on behalf of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, Daka International [the contract caterers taken over last week by Compass] and Disney Retail Stores".

No self-respecting diary would be complete without a reference to Halifax today. Halifax was all set yesterday to broadcast the start of dealing live from Merril Lynch direct to the new bank's branches. But the BBC failed to throw a switch to connect the broadcast, and by the time it did, BT pulled the plug to end the show. Halifax's in-house host Phil Sayer's masterly 10-minute ad-lib (worthy, I am told, of Desmond Lynam) was wasted on the empty air.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before