People & Business: NatWest snaps up former head of No 10 Policy Unit

NatWest Group has snapped up Norman Blackwell, former head of John Major's No 10 Policy Unit, to succeed Mark Aston as the bank's top strategist. Speaking as someone who tipped NatWest's shares last Christmas, I trust that the bank will do rather better than John Major did in May. Anyway, as NatWest's director of group corporate development, Mr Blackwell will whisper directly into the ear of chief executive Derek Wanless.

He will be responsible for thinking up new strategy and translating it into action.

Mr Blackwell is certainly well qualified for the job. He got a first in natural sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge and an MBA from Wharton Business School in the US. He also has a PhD in finance and 17 years of experience with McKinsey, much of it in banking and financial services. Our man succeeded Sarah Hogg at No 10 in February 1995 and got a life peerage in John Major's resignation honours list.

Which brings us to another figure in the last government, Malcolm Rifkind, who joined Australian mining and trading company BHP following the election defeat. BHP has been having a rough time of it lately, and now brokers T Hoare have decided to really put the boot in with a "strong sell" note on the company.

Mark Horn, the analyst at T Hoare responsible for the note, writes: "The shares will continue to underperform relative to major equity benchmarks; the recent dissension in the ranks of management has eroded the `management premium' of BHP; the problems faced by BHP are a combination of size, structure and management."

In fact Mr Horn couldn't have been more negative if he had written "the sky is falling"." Poor Malcolm. Perhaps Mr Blackwell can find him a desk at NatWest.

The fur is flying in the lucrative world of City legal journalism. The uncrowned queen of the genre, Catrin Griffiths, and her sidekick Dominic Egan, have quit the lawyers' glossy Legal Business as editor and deputy editor respectively.

To add insult to injury, the duo have joined with legal headhunters Quarry Dougall to launch a rival publishing venture of their own. Their departure follows a bust-up with John Pritchard, the mastermind behind the Legal 500 directory of lawyers, as well as a string of legal magazines. Legal Business has made boatloads of dosh for Mr Pritchard, concentrating as it does on advertising from the fat-cat end of City law, and chambers across London are agog as to how his flagship organ will fare without his two stars.

La Griffiths, a flame-headed Welshwoman, is expecting her second baby, and is at home sunning herself in Highbury, north London.

She and Mr Egan will be joined by Mark Brandon, formerly editor of the Legal 500 and another Pritchard refusenik, to produce what Quarry Dougall enigmatically describes as "a range of products new to the legal market".

Gareth Quarry, chief executive of Quarry Dougall, says: "We have no intention of competing with Legal Business or Commercial Lawyer. We believe there is a great demand for a radically different sort of product."

Mr Quarry refuses to be drawn on what the new product will be, although he is pleased as punch having recruited a "formidable team."

Meanwhile Mr Pritchard has appointed a part-timer on Legal Business, Martha Klein, to hold the reins as editor while he goes on holiday.

If you understand the phrase: "I'm mad for it. I'm having it large," then you'll be saddened to hear that the Hacienda, Manchester's most famous nightclub, is up for sale after its owners went bust.

The round red brick edifice has only just celebrated its 15th anniversary, having originally been founded as a home for bands like New Order and The Smiths.

It has also seen the rave movement and the Manchester scene come and go, with bands like the Inspiral Carpets and Oasis treading its beer-soaked boards.

Now Bruce Poizier of property agents DTZ Debenham Thorpe is looking for bids of around pounds 1.2m for the building. Bruce says there has been a huge amount of interest in the site, with proposals to turn it into offices, residential schemes, even an art gallery.

"The company that went into liquidation, FAC 51, owns the name `Hacienda', while the firm that owns the building, TGP 225, has put it on the market," says Bruce. The latter is owned by Rob Gretton, a former manager of New Order.

You won't catch Bruce himself raving in the club. "I'm a bit too long in the tooth - I haven't the energy," he confesses.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
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 Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star