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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
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

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'