People and Business: Heated words as not-so-steady Eddie takes off

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The Independent Online
EDDIE GEORGE, the Governor of the Bank of England, is in danger of losing his nickname "Steady Eddie". Just ask Paul Linford.

Mr Linford is the Newcastle Journal correspondent who recently caused a political storm when he quoted - misquoted, according to the Bank - Mr George as saying that job losses in the North were "a price worth paying in order to keep inflation down". Giving evidence to MPs on the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, the Governor wasted no time in denouncing Mr Linford as a "sensation-seeking journalist".

Worse was to come. After the Governor had finished giving evidence to MPs he approached Mr Linford in the crowded committee corridor. Mr George and Mr Linford had a brief, but heated, exchange, which ended rather abruptly when the Governor declared: "Go away, you silly man."

A not-so-steady Eddie then stormed off, the unkind laughter of journalists ringing in his ears.

WILLEM BUITER, a member of Mr George's Monetary Policy Committee, gave a fascinating insight into economists' sense of humour this week.

Addressing the Society of Business Economists, Mr Buiter cracked a joke about the American hedge fund that nearly sparked a global meltdown in the summer. "Long-Term Capital Management should have been renamed Short- Term Capital Mismanagement," he said. Apparently the roar of laughter from the gathered economists could be heard several blocks away. How sad.

GUY HANDS, Nomura's securitisation guru, has bought a pounds 4m mansion in Sevenoaks called Churchill College, which is being renovated at great expense. It is "the talk of Sevenoaks", I hear from my suburban colleagues.

SIMON BRISCOE, former head of research at Nikko, is not happy at his treatment by Salomon Smith Barney, the US investment bank that has taken on a number of Nikko's analysts following the Japanese house's decision to call it a day in the UK. Salomon offered Mr Briscoe what he felt was the City equivalent of a job "counting paper clips" and so he quit. Storming off seems to be catching this season...

JACOBS HOLDINGS has come a long way since former Lloyd's insurance broker Michael Kingshott took control from the last family member, John Jacobs, to run the 120-year-old shipping firm four years ago. Then the business consisted of 32 staff. Now Mr Kingshott, managing director, employs more than 1,600 people in shipping, road transport, distribution and property development.

Yesterday he poached Stephen Hepplewhite from Hays Group to be managing director of the shipping division, which includes Dart Line, set up two years ago, and Thames Europort, founded a year before. Last week Jacobs bought the Horizon transport business, which will be folded into its existing division under Wayne Denton, formerly of Securicor. Mr Kingshott is bullish about more deals: "Expect something next week," he says.

INCHCAPE continues to reinvent itself as a motor distributor. Yesterday it promoted Alan Ferguson from finance director of the international motors division to fd for the main board.

Mr Ferguson, who has been with Inchcape since 1983, will take over from Les Cullen on 1 January. Mr Cullen and Philip Cushing, Inchcape's current group chief executive, will help out with the restructuring until next June when they will both leave, and Peter Johnson, currently head of Inchcape Motors International, will take Mr Cushing's place.

I RECEIVED a press release yesterday headlined "Battle opens first ever British fashion designer industry conference". Was it handbags at dawn? No such luck. It was just John Battle, Minister for Energy and Industry, going on about his speech at a fashion conference on Wednesday.