People and Business: Hirst's double signing as Farnell fights the fallout

JOHN HIRST has made his first big management appointments since being brought in as chief executive of Premier Farnell in July to sort out the fallout from the troubled acquisition of Premier in the US two years ago.

The Durham-born troubleshooter has hired two senior executives for the electronic components distributor, and a further pair of senior appointments are down to the shortlist stage.

Michael Bell has been plucked from Forte to be Premier's group director of information technology. Angela Walker, currently head of ICI's autocolour business in Latin America - a business Mr Hirst created for ICI - will join her old boss in January as director of strategic marketing and planning, a newly created role.

Mr Hirst is hard at work winnowing down a list of candidates for head of human resources, as well as a permanent head for the US-based side of the Premier Farnell business in Newark, New Jersey. This is the biggest part of the group with sales of half a billion dollars.

In addition, the company has made Peter Costello chief executive officer of the industrial products division (IPD) in North America, replacing Terry Taylor, who has left "to pursue other interests".

Nick Ross, who has been acting head of IPD Europe, has been confirmed in that role.

Apart from Premier, Mr Hirst's passion is Sunderland football club, currently topping League Division One after beating Grimsby 3-1 on Saturday. As Premier's investor relations director, Victoria Scarth, said yesterday: "We hear about it every time they win a game."

CONGRATULATIONS to Brian Basham, doyen of city spin doctors, who married his PA, Lynne Goodson, on Saturday in what his colleague John Coyle described as "the most spectacular wedding I've ever been to".

The long guest list included many present and former clients, including Professor Sir Roland Smith, formerly of British Aerospace and a host of other companies, and Keith Harris of HSBC. Graham Walker, formerly of Argyll, lent the happy couple a vintage Bentley for the occasion.

The wedding party was ferried from St Mary the Virgin in Primrose Hill, London, to the reception at the National Liberal Club in a fleet of double- decker London buses. The revels included jeroboams of champagne, a spectacular fireworks display, a steel band, a five-course meal and dancing 'til one.

Mr Basham's best man was Michael Vernon-Powell, who used to head the Royal British Legion. Mr Basham was the man who led the campaign for the restoration of the two-minute silence on Remembrance Day.

Sadly for the paparazzi, the honeymoon location is a well-kept secret.

THE RED braces world of traders is brought to life by Hillary Davis's book A Million a Minute, which is being published for the first time in paperback later this month. My favourite quote is from Eric Sheinberg, a legendary trader with Goldman Sachs who moved from New York to London in the 1980s.

About to put one over on another trader, he told a colleague: "Now I'm going to show you what CBOT is." Mr Sheinberg was not referring to the Chicago Board of Trade, but rather to a Wall Street saying, "Chopped Balls on Toast".

WESTLB ASSET Management has poached Luke Nunneley from Fleming Investment Management to be its head of marketing worldwide. Richard Wohanka, head of WestLB Asset Management, says he intends significantly to expand the group's activities through organic growth and acquisitions.

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