People & Business

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WHILE Chancellor Helmut Kohl was enjoying the freedom of the City of London this week, his youngest son, Peter, appeared to have made use of his freedom to leave it.

Peter, aged 33, has been working as an investment banker in London for five years. But he suddenly left his former employer last month without notifying colleagues of a new career path.

Staff at the London branch of Salomon Brothers, the American investment bank, said the German Chancellor's son had left without leaving any forwarding address.

Peter has spent most of his youth outside Germany. He trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston before before moving to work as a junior associate at the London branch of Credit Suisse First Boston.

After a lucrative three years in corporate finance, he became close to a beautiful Turkish banker four years his junior, Elif Sozen, the daughter of a Muslim businessman from Istanbul. According to some reports, Peter is expected to marry Miss Sozen shortly.

Bespectacled, but much shorter and thinner than his father, Peter is determined to avoid being seen as the young Helmut Kohl. A former colleague said: "He always kept himself to himself and definitely didn't want to be seen just as the son of his father. We left him alone because he clearly wanted to live life as himself."

THE DTI has got a new director of communications, in the shape of Stephen Sklaroff. Let's hope the former Washington embassy staffer has a jollier time of it than his predecessor, Jean Caines.

Apparently, Ms Caines did not enjoy the warmest of working relationships with a number of New Labour ministers, including Nigel Griffiths. According to Whitehall gossip, Mr Griffiths and Ms Caines had a bit of a misunderstanding. He felt she was not as pro-active as she might have been in warning him of nasty articles about to appear about him in the press. All very unfair.

Anyway, Mr Sklaroff, 39, already has five years' experience in the DTI's finance directorate. Before that he worked in the Washington embassy, and before that in the Secretary of State for Energy's office. Over to you, Mr Sklaroff.

ONE OF the greatest rugby players of all time, the Welsh former scrum half Gareth Edwards, has joined Coutts to spearhead its expansion in Wales and the West of England. The star of the 1973 Barbarians victory over the All Blacks has been appointed a director in the Cardiff office of the NatWest-owned private bank.

Gareth's main job will be to advise the Cardiff branch on its customer base in Wales. With any luck he will also find time to pop over the River Severn now and again to visit Coutts' other expanding branches in Bristol and Bath, both keen rugby-following cities.

IS THIS the death of an Eighties icon or its resurrection? Filofax, the maker of the personal organiser, said yesterday it is in "tentative discussions" with a number of parties about selling the whole or part of the group, strategic alliances and joint ventures.

The company made the statement following a rise in its share price in recent days. Yesterday's announcement helped to spur the shares higher, closing 20p up at 184.5p.

Robin Field, chief executive of Filofax, said talks are at a "very preliminary stage" and that further announcements would be made "as and when appropriate".

The company made the statement in response to a recent rise in its share price. After a profits warning in 1996 and flat interims in 1997, perhaps some predators smell blood? The company is keeping all options open at the moment. It said it "continues to examine all strategic opportunities to exploit its pre-eminent brand name, its fast growing distribution strength and strong cash generation in order to maximise shareholder value".

Perhaps Mr Field will just have to wait around for an Eighties revival to get sales growing again.

BANKERS TRUST has made a very shrewd appointment, I think, by hiring Alan Ramsay, former head of surveillance at the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA) as managing director and head of compliance for Europe and Asia.

Bankers Trust is well known for its aggressive trading strategies and innovative use of derivatives, so risk management is the name of the game. Having someone of Mr Ramsay's background keeping a beady eye on things should help prevent it from "doing a Barings" or similar.

No doubt Mr Ramsay is getting paid a better whack than his former FSA colleagues who have gone off to join Howard Davies's giant new regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Or perhaps Mr Ramsay just didn't fancy the daily commute to London's Docklands. Whatever, Bankers Trust has worldwide assets of $140bn, $320bn in assets under management and $2 trillion in assets under custody. Plenty for Mr Ramsay to keep under surveillance.