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HOWARD Hodgson, the former king of British undertakers and ex- boss of Ronson, has been appointed chief executive of a cigarette lighter manufacturer which was recently bought out of liquidation by its American affiliate.

The trading subsidiaries of Colibri of London were put into liquidation last month. Now Colibri Corporation of America, a separate company that broke off from the UK business over 30 years ago, has bought Colibri of London and appointed Mr Hodgson boss of a new company, Colibri Corporation Limited.

Colibri owns a number of trademarks to lighter and pen designs, and its turnover in the US is over $90 million.

Fred Levinger, President of the US company, said: "We intend to finance and support the new international that it achieves a prominent place in the market."

"From a marketing perspective, we look forward to the obvious synergies of a united brand name."

LONRHO continues its transformation into a club for South African tycoons with the appointment of Sir Alastair Morton as a non-executive director.

Sir Alastair, the man who got Eurotunnel dug, grew up in South Africa before getting a scholarship to Oxford University.

Although his nationality is English and his father was a Scottish oil engineer, Sir Alastair will no doubt feel at home with the other South Africans on the Lonrho board, chairman Sir John Craven, and mining director Terence Wilkinson.

Sir Alastair spent his first four working years at De Beers and Anglo American in South Africa, before moving to the World Bank. He is currently, amongst many other things, an adviser to the vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge and chairman of the National Youth Orchestra.

BEAUFORD, a manufacturer of ceramics based in Leeds, has appointed a new chief executive to replace Edward Duke, who has recently been made leader of the Countryside Alliance. Obviously Mr Duke couldn't spend his time leading marches to London and put in a full working week at the office, so he has switched to a non-executive role at the company.

The new chief executive of Beauford is Clive Gilham, a chartered accountant who has been finance director of the company since 1992.

Mr Duke joined the board of Beauford in 1991 when it was in the red and being nursed along by its banks. During his time at the helm, the company was refinanced, 12 engineering subsidiaries were closed or sold and three industrial and ceramics companies bought, repositioning the business as a specialist ceramics maker.

Lets hope Mr Duke can do a similar good job at the Countryside Alliance, although I think with its disparate make-up of fox hunters, green-belters and horny-handed sons of toil the Alliance might be a tougher proposition.

BILL Harrison, the former head of BZW, started at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell 10 days ago as head of corporate advisory, with the additional role of integrating corporate banking and investment banking business, a process that will cost thousands of job losses worldwide.

Back in 1996 Mr Harrison trousered three million pounds from BZW, causing gasps even in the highly-paid parlours of the City.

Yet a naughty little bird whispers in my ear that Mr Harrison's pay-off when he left BZW last autumn, following Barclays' decision to sell most of its investment bank, "barely climbed into seven figures."

Poor chap. Lets hope Deutsche make up for this fallow year.

KEN Bates, chairman of Chelsea, is not a man to cross lightly. Indeed Mr Bates's reputation is so fierce that his fellow directors take great care what they say when they're in his presence.

For instance Alan Shaw, Chelsea's company secretary, told journalists as he started the annual results presentation at Stamford Bridge yesterday: "The good news is that Michael Russell [finance director] and myself are here to take your questions. The bad news is that Ken Bates isn't here, but he will be available to talk to you at lunch."

Such respect. No wonder Mr Bates is known as "The Godfather of Stamford Bridge."

WHAT'S a "Reusable Transit Package?"

CK Chow, chief executive of GKN, has the answer: Its the plastic version of a cardboard box.

Mr Chow reckons the RTP has "enormous potential" to replace the humble cardboard model, since the former is more robust and environmentally sensitive, being reusable.

GKN is already supplying such things to Asda and is talking to four supermarket chains in France and Spain.

Sales of RTPs could eventually reach pounds 1bn for each continent of the world, and GKN is in the lead Mr Chow says.