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Pity John Pexton, well-respected managing director of Lambert Fenchurch's marine division. He is has been at the centre of an inquiry by the "zero tolerance" regulators from Lloyd's of London insurance market.

But after months of work the particular Lloyd's investigator assigned to the case has switched jobs. This leaves Mr Pexton to worry about whether the probe will be delayed, or worse, started again.

Mr Pexton has already been interviewed personally about the problem but his company remain confident he will be exonerated. A spokesman for Lambert Fenchurch says: "We are still waiting for a transcript of the interview. But we believe it went very well. The company has not done anything wrong."

The investigation follows allegations that certain profit commissions in the US were kept by the Fenchurch group (before its merger with Lowndes Lambert last year) rather than handed back to clients as they should have been.

Roger Jones has retired as managing director of Woolworths after 40 years with the stores group, and is succeeded by his heir apparent Roger Holmes.

Mr Holmes joined Kingfisher, owner of Woolworths, in 1994 as B&Q's finance director. Mr Holmes was previously with McKinsey & Co, with seven years international experience in retailing and consumer goods.

Mr Jones recalls that the high street was a very different place when he joined FW Woolworth's Kensington High Street branch as a management trainee in 1954.

"Everything was based around personal service then," he says. Woolworths shops were dominated by large wooden counters, each manned by a senior, a deputy and an assistant. "We employed twice as many people as today, if not more."

The other big difference was that Woolworths was a large food retailer, long before the modern supermarkets came on the scene, with 40 per cent of its sales coming from food of one kind and another.

Woolworths was a pioneer in management training, he says, including store display, customer service and localised purchasing.

Mr Jones has already turned down a handful of offers of non-executive directorships, saying he is determined to enjoy his retirement. This will centre around bringing down the golf handicap and visiting big European cities - "without going inside any shopping centres or any hotels," he says, with feeling.

I doubt Mr Jones will be spending much time at Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland. The American-owned club, which has a course designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, has recently been expensively redeveloped, and is now offering membership - at a mere $1m a throw.

The special "director memberships", in the form of 25-year debentures, are only being offered to a maximum of 12 people. In return the members will get $120,000 a year to spend on golf, food and beverage, and accommodation.

The club's owners boast that Loch Lomond is "an unusual and successful combination of Scottish tradition and American entrepreneurial flair". The latter certainly, but I wasn't aware that it was a Scottish tradition to pay a cool million for the odd round of golf.

Blockbuster Video, watch out. Two Insead MBA graduates have banded together to launch FilmBox, a company which installs machines for renting out videos, CD Roms and computer games on a 24-hour basis.

Eldar Tuvey, an Israeli born former Goldman Sachs corporate financier, and Old Etonian Harry Eastwood, a management consultant, have just raised pounds 450,000 in private funds to back their company.

"We have four of the machines installed on a trial basis, and we aim to expand that to around 200 over the next couple of years. We're mostly talking to the supermarket chains," says Mr Tuvey.

The machines, which do not require any human assistance and take credit cards, are already widely popular in Italy, where there are over 10,000 in use, he says.

Peter Rosengard, a co-founder of London's Comedy Store and an insurance salesman, helped raise pounds 350,00 for the company from his City contacts. FilmBox is based in Hammersmith, and Mr Tuvey wants at least three to five years' growth before considering a float, perhaps on Ofex or AIM.

"We give the machines to the shops and they get an uplift in sales - and it's all without staff problems," concludes the 27-year-old entrepreneur.

"Globalisation" has been a business buzz-word for some time now, but I hadn't realised it applied so much to liquidators. Stephen Taylor is the Coopers & Lybrand partner in charge of the international insolvency practice based in London, a job which includes sending liquidators out to the far corners of the globe to deal with companies that go belly up.

"We're very busy in Asia at the moment, while Russia, the Ukraine and central Europe are also busy," says Mr Taylor. "There's also quite a lot going on in South America and Africa, especially South Africa." Now what's "You're bust" in Afrikaans?

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