People and business: How Frankfurt lost a lot in translation

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The Independent Online
IN TUESDAY'S edition I referred to a German newsletter, Finanzplatz- News, which declared triumphantly that Frankfurt was set to overtake London as Europe's premier financial centre. The front page of the newsletter quoted Dr Lutz Roger Raettig, chairman of the board at Morgan Stanley's German arm, saying: "The differences between London and Frankfurt at the moment are relatively clear cut in favour of Frankfurt."

This caused something of a stir at Morgan Stanley's offices in London, just a baguette's throw from The Independent offices at Canary Wharf.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman pointed out yesterday that in the original German-language version of Finanzplatz-News, Mr Raettig actually said "zu ungusten von Frankfurt," which means that the differences are relatively clear cut to the disadvantage of Frankfurt.

To his credit, Stefan Seit, the office manager in charge of Finanzplatz- News, came clean immediately when I contacted him yesterday. "There was a mistake in the translation [for the English edition of the newsletter]. What Dr Raettig said in this context was exactly the opposite. We will have to apologise, and will publish it [the apology] on the front page of the next issue," said Mr Seit.

Which is jolly sporting, seeing that Mr Seit's job is to trumpet Frankfurt's innate superiority over London in all things.

Mr Seit was unrepentant about the "trumpeting" tone of his newsletter, however, saying that it was necessary to "get some impact".

I SEE my pal Roger Oldfield of KPMG is in the limelight again, this time as joint receiver of Yardley, the perfume and soap company which went bust yesterday. Together with Tony Thompson, Mr Oldfield will be looking for a buyer for the business.

Mr Oldfield is frighteningly good at this. He almost sold me a flat in Bow Quarter, a 1980s housing development in London's East End, which he wound up in the last recession.

Yesterday Mr Oldfield was rallying Yardley's employees at its base in Basildon, Essex, but I firmly expect to see him down Oxford Street flogging bottles of Mystique, Baroque, Panache and Tweed to bemused American tourists...

MOST PEOPLE think that the details of the Government's new savings scheme, the Individual Savings Account (ISA), are due to be announced on 6 April next year. However, I can reveal that an ISA has already existed for over 100 years, administered by the Department of Trade and Industry and with all funds held by the Bank.

This ISA charges customers 15 per cent of the first pounds 50,000 they deposit with it, pays them measly interest of 3 per cent gross, and then charges a further 65p for every cheque issued.

The ISA concerned is the Insolvency Services Account, a weird Victorian throwback which successive governments have refused to abolish. It was invented to stop Victorian cowboy liquidators running off with creditors' assets. Their present-day counterparts still have to abide by this grossly uncommercial and unfair scheme.

UBS, WHICH owns Warburg Dillon Read, is keen to expand its investment banking activities in the US. These ambitions won't have been helped by rival Commerzbank's own announce-ment yesterday that it has poached Nick Hiley from Warburg Dillon Read's office in the Big Apple to be head of Pan-European Sales, New York.

Mehmet Dalman, Commerzbank's energetic head of Global Equities, said he was looking forward to seeing Mr Hiley work with his ex-Warburg colleague Michael Lewis, who is now head of international sales trading, New York.