People and Business: All change on top of the Standard

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The Independent Online
RANA TALWAR, chief executive-designate at Standard Chartered, has wasted no time in reorganising top management following the surprise departure last month of Alexander Au, who resigned as a group executive director just six weeks into the job.

Standard had lured Mr Au from HSBC, and he started in June. Then Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation offered him the job of chief executive - and he was off.

Mr Talwar was named as Malcolm Williamson's successor at the top just as Mr Au started his short stint. The new boss has given responsibility for the Middle East and South Asia to Christopher Castleman, a fellow director. Meanwhile, Mr Talwar will personally take charge of "legal and compliance and external affairs".

Mervyn Davies, currently in charge of Standard's businesses in Hong Kong and China, will look after the bank's economists, and Peter Wood will take on "governance responsibility" for the UK, the bank said yesterday. Michael Green will be in charge of audit and investigations.

TALKING OF Standard, Theresa Foo, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank Singapore, and her sister are being sued by their younger brother for S$350,000 (pounds 120,000) over a house sold by their late mother.

Yeo Cheng Hay, Ms Foo's brother, told a Singapore court that his late mother forced him to sell her his half-share in the house at a below-market price of S$275,500 to pay off a S$9,000 credit card debt. The house was eventually sold for S$1.25m seven years ago and Ms Foo was one of the main beneficiaries of her mother's will after her death in 1994.

ANDERSEN CONSULTING is about to demolish the old Mirror Building on Holborn Circus in the heart of London, and replace it with a gleaming new head office designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Andersens will then move its 5,000-strong UK workforce into Robert Maxwell's old headquarters. (One bit of the 1960s-designed complex is actually called "Maxwell House".)

The management consultancy is embroiled in a messy divorce from its accountancy side, Arthur Andersen, which is staying put in its own offices down the road at The Temple, on the other side of the Strand.

How ironic that it was an Arthur Andersen partner, John Talbot, who spearheaded the investigation of the pounds 400m pension fund fraud after the death of Mr Maxwell. Mr Talbot, who now heads up AA's corporate finance operations worldwide, must chuckle as he passes the Holborn edifice where he did so much of his investigating, now inhabited by his erstwhile consultancy colleagues.

CONGRATULATIONS to Alan Moore, who has succeeded John Davies as deputy chairman of Lloyds TSB.

Mr Moore's first big job was as director general of the Bahrain Monetary Agency before he joined Lloyds Bank International in 1980. He will sit alongside Lloyds TSB's other deputy chairman, Sir Nicholas Goodison.

Meanwhile Sir Brian Pitman, who ascended from chief executive to chairman a couple of years ago, sails on at a sprightly 66 years old. If he wants to go on after 70 it will take a special resolution at an agm, but I wouldn't put it past him. Poor John Ellwood, his successor as chief executive of the bank, can hardly get a word past Sir Brian at most press conferences. Still, no-one ever went bust investing in the bank that Sir Brian built.

"IF MARS had a currency, we would recommend it as none of those on earth looks very appealing at the moment." A point well made by the forex team at NatWest Global Financial Markets in their latest weekly briefing note. But not terribly helpful to clients.

WHILE ATTENDING the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand yesterday morning, I spotted a notice which made my heart sink to my boots.

Let me explain. Anyone wishing to search through the latest writs issued, and thus find out who is suing who, can only do so by paying various search fees. This means you have to visit a separate "fees room" as well as the "writ room". Until now the fees room has been on the second floor of the Thomas More building, and the writ room on the third floor.

Yesterday I saw a notice saying that from 1 September the Thomas More fees room will be closed "indefinitely". Everyone will have to trek over to another fees room a good 10 minutes' walk away on the opposite side of the labyrinthine court complex. The authorities add: "We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. However, this action is necessary in order to maintain an efficient and effective service."

This beats any nonsense British Rail ever came up with about "wrong kind of leaves".

AT LEAST you get a better class of lav wall graffiti in the Royal Courts of Justice. There's currently a sign above the basin in one of the loos apologising for a temporary absence of hot water. The sign adds: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Some wag has added: "How strange to be inconvenienced by a public convenience."

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