People and Business: Just the right time to find a future in oil

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The Independent Online
LORD FRASER of Carmyllie must be getting well used to crises and controversy by now. He resigned earlier this month as the Tory Party's deputy leader in the House of Lords following William Hague's falling out with his boss, Lord Cranborne.

Now Lord Fraser has joined the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) as the oil futures market's new chairman - just in time for the bombing of Iraq.

RAILTRACK IS seeking 250 volunteers to spend three to four hours of their time getting on and off a train.

Bemused commuters fighting their way out of Moorgate station in the City rush hour yesterday morning were handed yellow leaflets headlined: "Stand and we'll deliver pounds 1,000 to ease those Christmas blues."

The leaflets, from contractor WS Atkins, said that Railtrack is sponsoring a series of tests at a railway station on 9 January, and is offering a lucky prize draw to reward any takers. The first prize is pounds 1,000, then pounds 750, then pounds 250, plus another ten pounds 50 prizes. The losers get just pounds 10 "travel costs".

A spokeswoman for WS Atkins said they hoped the inducement would be enough to attract the required number of people. So what are the tests all about?

"It's an important part of the tests that the people taking part don't know what its about," the spokeswoman replied..

THERE HAVE been mutterings from junior staff at the Bank of England about the measly pounds 100 bonus they are being paid to come in for the three days of the euro conversion weekend over the New Year.

The Bank is making the "commitment payment" in recognition of the fact that staff will have to come in on New Year's Day, post the usual New Year's Eve revels, and help convert all the bank's myriad systems to the new euro currency.

Up to 300 of the Bank's 2,000 staff will have to be there to change currency accounts, update computer systems and answer queries from banks throughout the City on the changes needed.

A spokeswoman for the Bank denies the pounds 100 payments are measly. "Staff will also be paid overtime as usual," she says. The only real threat to a smooth changeover is the threatened strike by Tube and rail staff, she added.

IF YOU'RE looking for a contemporary equivalent of Scrooge, look no further than Salomon Smith Barney, who have told staff there is "no budget" for Christmas cards this year. Bah humbug.

SIR ARCHIE NORMAN, chairman of Asda, moved quickly to quash press rumours that he was looking to dump his political responsibilities as a Tory MP and rebuilder of the party's fortunes.

"Everyone knows I have a twin-track career and I intend to continue it," Sir Archie said. "I have every intention of remaining MP for Tunbridge Wells. I'm not about to go off and be chief executive somewhere else."

So Barclays Bank shareholders can relax, for now.

THE NEW enforcement regime outlined by Howard Davies, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, yesterday, doesn't lack teeth.

As Mr Davies pointed out, Clause 138 of the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, "has powers for the decapitation of IFAs (independent financial advisers)."

I think he was joking.

Tim Richards is leaving Daiwa Europe to join Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale as global head of its debt syndication team. WestLB's head of Eurobond trading, Tony Maude and trader Mark Dodd will join the bank's London syndication team in January, the bank said.

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