People & Business

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AS I forecast a couple of weeks ago, Jon Moynihan has split his role as chairman and chief executive of PA Consulting Group by appointing a new chief executive. The new man is Jeremy Asher, a 39-year-old Harvard MBA.

Mr Moynihan, you will recall, fell out with the majority owners of the PA Consulting Group, the Butten Trust, and "resigned".

He un-resigned before Christmas after the Trust agreed to share more of PA's income with current employees.

In fact, Mr Moynihan continued to work for PA throughout the tiff.

PA had commissioned headhunters to find a successor for Mr Moynihan, and this money was unwasted when he decided to stay, since they picked Mr Asher.

Mr Asher trained as a consultant but has spent most of his career in the oil industry. He recently helped buy and recommission Mobil's oil refinery in Wilhelmshaven, a vast facility with over 1,000 employees. Now he has disposed of his oil interests and will concentrate on growing PA.

Despite Mr Asher's comparative youth it is unlikely that he will be overawed by Mr Moynihan, a man known for not being a blushing introvert.

Mr Asher says: "I have every confidence that Jon and I can take PA forward to achieve even greater heights in the consulting industry."

THE BID battle for Eastern Electricity between the two American rivals, PacifiCorp and Texas Utilities, may be of help to an environmental campaign to save the Norfolk Broads from a new infestation of electricity pylons.

That is the hope of "Operation ClearSky", a grass roots campaign launched eight months ago with the aim of preserving an area of outstanding natural beauty.

"Specifically, we want to convince the Eastern group to bury the electricity cables from Hellington to the south side of Hardley Floods in rural Norfolk, rather than replace the existing pylons in this area with higher new pylons carrying twice the number of cables, as it has proposed," says the group.

Brian Clarke, a spokesman for the campaigners and a local resident, says they have been trying to convince Eastern to bury the cables for the last two-and-half years, ever since the company proposed an upgrade of services to the Suffolk coast.

"We accept that the lines have to be upgraded, but not their arguments about cost and impact on the area," says Mr Clarke. The new pylons will go through two areas designated as of special scientific interest, for example.

So now the locals have tried writing to the American companies to see what their attitude is. Both PacifiCorp and Texas Utilities publish huge lists of environmental pledges and achievements but neither has replied to Operation ClearSky yet.

The campaigners are urging Eastern shareholders to vote in favour of the bidder most likely to bury the cables but it's not clear which one this is. Over to you, guys.

WILLIAM Chamley, a corporate lawyer with Simmons & Simmons, proved recently that devotion to the deal is everything.

According to Legal Business magazine, Mr Chamley was injured in a car crash in January involving a horse box, but still managed to drag himself from a hospital bed to advise his client, Raines Dairy Foods.

Mr Chamley was found staggering out of his car after it had turned over at least twice, the mag says. He lost consciousness soon after and came to in hospital. Mr Chamley had to wear a neck brace after suffering multiple fractures of his vertebrae.

The problem was that Mr Chamley had promised Raines he would be there throughout negotiations for the sale of their business to Yoplait Dairy Crest for pounds 66m.

The deal was due to close in 10 days' time. Against doctors' orders, the intrepid lawyer started working from his hospital bed, and the deal went through.

I suppose it gives a new, less pejorative, meaning to the phrase "ambulance chaser".

THE LATEST refugee from UBS only joined the recently merged investment bank last September. Bill Smith, global head of equities research at UBS, only left Barclays last autumn, and is returning to take charge of its new savings and investment grouping.

Mr Smith, an actuary with a maths degree, was until September deputy chairman of Barclays Asset Management, and before that deputy chief executive of BZW Equities.

Martin Taylor has reorganised Barclays so that from next Wednesday all retail operations will be part of a Retail Financial Services division, whose chief executive will be John Varley.

Mr Smith will report to Mr Varley when the former joins on 6 April, and the savings grouping will include Barclays Life, Global Mutual Funds, BarclayTrust and Barclays Property Investment.