People and Business: PWC clips the vultures' wings

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The Independent Online
AS RUSSIA grapples with its financial crisis, rumours reach me that British insolvency practitioners have been flying in touting for business. Stuff and nonsense, says Stephen Taylor, the partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in charge of drafting corporate recovery people overseas.

"If you started shipping hundreds of troops out there, banging on doors and hanging around like vultures, you wouldn't get very far," says Mr Taylor.

"We don't do that. We've already got quite a large presence in Russia, mostly in Moscow," he says. PWC are advising mainly Western clients in Russia, as well as a few Russian companies.

"It's a bit like the early days of the East Asian crisis," he adds. British insolvency specialists have played a big role there. "You can spend an awful lot of time speaking to the wrong people. It's not clear yet who the right people are."

Probably more important to PWC, which has the UK's biggest corporate recovery practice, is the recent acquisition of a German insolvency firm, Schultze and Braun, says Mr Taylor.

"The German insolvency scene is still very fragmented and lawyer-driven. This is the first move by a big player into the German market," he says.

And after all, he adds, the German economy is much bigger than Britain's, meaning there's more work to do. It is also bigger than Russia's, of course - that now ranks alongside Denmark's.

PWC is looking forward to working with some new German insolvency legislation which becomes effective next spring, which they think will favour accountants over lawyers.

As for Russia, it also has some new corporate recovery legislation. Rather worryingly, however, this was introduced on 1 April ...

TEATHER & GREENWOOD, the private client stockbroker which reversed into an AIM-listed shell last April, has gone on a hiring spree.

In comes Martin Cross, a highly rated financials analyst from UBS, Rowan Morgan, a retail analyst from Nikko Europe, Russell Cook and Martin Lampshire from Granville & Co and Craig Leppard from First Equity.

Although Teather & Greenwood dates back to 1886, it was only two years ago that the owner/partners decided to grow its corporate finance, institutional sales and private client stockbroking operations.

While Jeremy Delmar-Mogan still presides as chief executive, the former head of research, Derek Terrington, recently went off to help Axa build a new fund management business. Guy Feld, an old Teather hand who spent two years at UBS, came back to replace Mr Terrington, and since the firm reversed into Northern Residential Property the value of the business has grown to an estimated pounds 4m.

All of which is quite a contrast to life at the old UBS, according to Mr Cross. "It's very different to what I'm used to. We've got about 150 staff and about 10 analysts. There are very nice people here, and it's growing."

This is also a contrast to the rather sour end of UBS at the hands of Warburg Dillon Read. Mr Cross says he really got the message about the "merger" when he saw a brochure produced by WDR "after the dust had settled". Out of 60 old UBS analysts it listed just six, and most of those were comparatively junior.

JENNIFER PANTLING is also leaving Granville, the independent brokers, in order to join the corporate finance division of Rea Brothers, the merchant bank.

Ms Pantling, 47, started off at Lawrence Prust as a mining and oils analyst, then entered corporate finance at Smith New Court. She had a spell with Adam & Partners, the corporate finance boutique and then went to Granville, where she was a director of corporate finance.

Ms Pantling will report to Nick Wells, who heads corporate finance at Rea Brothers. The bank is about to get a new chairman, William Salomon, a representative of the family that owns the business.

KWIK-FIT, the operator of about 1,100 exhaust repair centres around Europe, has beefed up its management team. Graeme Bisset, currently a senior partner in Arthur Andersen in Scotland, joins next month as finance director. The incumbent, John Houston, has been appointed group director of strategy and business development.

Ian McIntosh, shortly to retire as vice chairman in HSBC Investment Bank and also a non-executive director of IMI, joins the Board as a non-exec. Mr McIntosh will sit on the nomination, remuneration and audit committees.

NOT MANY firms of solicitors are into asset management, but Lawrence Graham's investment management business is the biggest of any London law outfit, and it has just hired a former manager from Hambros Private Banking to boost its efforts in this area.

James Sageman joins as managing director of Lawrence Graham Investment Management Services. The 270-year-old firm has around pounds 80m under management and aims to grow this rapidly.

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