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People and Business

Party time at the WGC

THE WORLD Gold Council is about to hold a party to mark the relocation of its global headquarters from Geneva to London - just in time for Gordon Brown's decision to sell half the UK's gold reserves, torpedoing the gold market in the process.

However, the Gold Council says it is unfazed by the Treasury's announcement to auction half the UK's $6.5bn reserves. As far as the opening of the new HQ is concerned, "it's not an issue", says a spokesman. The reception in Haymarket, London, on 20 May, will be hosted by the Council's chief executive officer, Ms Haruko Fukuda, who before her appointment in February was vice chairman of Nikko Securities Europe.

A new haunt

THE FORMER director of GCHQ, Britain's top-secret eavesdropping centre, has been appointed chairman of the Country Houses Association. Sir John Adye was in charge of the Cheltenham-based spy centre from 1989 to 1996. It is said that the spooks in GCHQ can eavesdrop on a Russian tank commander's conversation with his commanding officer on manoeuvres in the Urals.

Sir John's task at the association will be somewhat more straightforward. It's a charity which runs nine country houses in the south of England and leases out apartments in the houses to 250 retired people. Sir John will be seeking new funds to keep the historic homes in shape.

Personal time

THE FINANCE director at ENIC, the leisure group which is developing restaurants with Warner Brothers, has resigned for "personal reasons".

Gerard McSloy has stepped down to pursue other, as yet unspecified, interests. ENIC named Jonathan Paddison, a corporate financier with Arthur Andersen, as its new fd.

Joe Lewis, the Atlantic-hopping Bermuda-based tycoon and currency speculator, used to have a hefty stake in ENIC but handed it over to the current management last April, following ENIC's unsuccessful bid for Wembley Stadium.

Mr Lewis's son Charles Lewis still sits on ENIC's board as an executive director in charge of the restaurant side. ENIC is currently co-developing restaurants in Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida, with Warners.

Rich record

"ATTILA THE Brum" has struck again. Whatever you think about Bill Harrison, you have to envy a man who has pocketed two hefty City payoffs in barely a year.

Starting at Flemings, Mr Harrison moved to BZW. When it was sold by Barclays to CSFB last year, he left with a seven-figure payoff.

Mr Harrison promptly joined Deutsche Bank as vice chairman of its corporate and institutional arm. Then along came the Deutsche merger with Bankers Trust, the United States investment bank.

Now Mr Harrison is leaving Deutsche with another seven-figure payoff. There are different versions of why he is leaving, however.

One is that Deutsche's corporate finance side, the remnants of the old Morgan Grenfell, is in a shambles, and that Mr Harrison is doing well to get out.

The other is that the corporate finance arm in London has stabilised post the merger with Bankers Trust and that Mr Harrison's face didn't fit - so he was asked to quit.

Nor, according to insiders, did Mr Harrison live up to his promise as one of the City's leading rainmakers.

Words in anger

MICHAEL EISNER, the longtime chief executive of Walt Disney, was testifying last week in the breach-of-contract lawsuit brought by his former deputy, Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The court heard excerpts from the raw notes for Mr Eisner's autobiography Work in Progress, in which Mr Eisner said to his co-author about Mr Katzenberg: "I think I hate the little midget."

Mr Eisner testified that the comments were made privately, in anger.

"I still do not hate Mr Katzenberg," he said, as Mr Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, looked on in the Los Angeles courtroom.

E-mail: j.willcock@independent.co.uk