People and Business: Retire from stockbroking? I'm only 88

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The Independent Online
JIMMY HERBERT, the City's oldest working stockbroker, is celebrating his 88th birthday today in fine style - at The Fox pub, just north of Finsbury Square.

The traditional boozer has been the preferred haunt of brokers for generations. Mr Herbert says he is delighted that friends are due to arrive from all corners of the globe, including "Cheshire and the US," to attend the jamboree.

Mr Herbert moved to Hichens Harrison from Branston & Gothard last April, when the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA) closed the latter broker due to insufficient capital.

Such a hiccup did not faze Mr Herbert. "I've known Clive Mcguire (one of Hichens' senior partners) for 30 years. It's a very, very nice firm," he says. The firm was originally founded in a London coffee house in 1803, just as the London Stock Exchange was starting up.

So when will Mr Herbert retire, I ask? "If anybody gave me a reason to, I would - how could I have a better life?" he protested.

And his tip for 1999? "Racal - I'm still convinced it's a winner."

LORD BURNS, Margaret Thatcher's monetarist guru in the 1980s, has set himself up for a comfortable retirement by joining Legal & General as a non-executive director.

Terence Burns arrived at the Treasury in 1980 as the young firebrand from the London Business School, and helped make money-supply targets the central feature of the Government's economic policy. He was chief economic adviser to the Treasury until 1991, when he became permanent secretary.

He did not get on well with Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's recently deposed spin doctor, and the fanatical Queens Park Rangers fan will not have shed many tears at the Spurs supporter's demise.

Lord Burns is still a civil servant, and Legal & General says that under anti-sleaze rules he had to apply for permission to join the company: "The Prime Minister, on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, approved the application unconditionally."

Soon Tony Blair will have to approve every paper clip used by the civil service.

EASTERN, Britain's biggest electricity supplier, has recruited a former oil industry man to take over as chief executive from John Devaney, who quit last September to devote more time to his personal business interests and young family.

Philip Turberville, 47, joins Eastern from Royal Dutch Shell, where he spent 22 years, most recently as president of Shell Europe Oil Products. A chartered accountant by training, Mr Turberville has jumped ship at a challenging time for both his former employer and his new one.

While Shell grapples with a record low oil price and a $2.5bn cost-cutting programme, Eastern, now owned by Texas Utilities, is having to cope with the opening of the domestic power market and the electricity regulator's forthcoming price review, due to take effect in 2000.

Erle Nye, the chairman of Texas, says Mr Turberville's international experience - he has had stints in Australasia, the Middle East, Africa, the US and Europe - and marketing expertise make him uniquely qualified to help Eastern expand further into gas and electricity.

Which just leaves the question of what Mr Devaney will do next. With a reported pounds 1.5m payoff burning a hole in his trousers, he doesn't have to find a new job in a hurry, and he always has his existing business interests to keep him occupied. Mr Devaney owns an engineering company and one of the country's biggest publishers of marine titles.

But the betting remains on him popping up elsewhere in the energy sector. He has been touted as a bidder for some of the power stations being sold off by National Power and PowerGen, or even for National Power itself.