PEOPLE & BUSINESS

Click to follow
The Independent Online
IT'S ALL very well for Citicorp and Travellers to bang on about the "synergies" of their proposed $140bn merger. What about their poor employees who work in London?

Citicorp's offices in the Smoke are currently scattered about the place, but the bank is about to consolidate all its operations in one palatial new steel and glass skyscraper in Canary Wharf in London's Docklands. In other words, in the East End.

Salomons, Travellers' main operation in London, has its own vast dealing rooms over Victoria Station, a good three-quarters of an hour's Tube ride away in the West End. Smith Barney, Travellers' other main subsidiary here, has various offices in the Square Mile, roughly in the middle.

This is no laughing matter, considering the congestion on the Capital's streets and the slowness and unreliability of its public transport system. The merger is based on the idea of cost savings - so which operations will move?

The smart money must be on Salomons' selling its fantastically valuable piece of real estate down the road from Buckingham Palace and trekking westwards to docklands. There's plenty of space to build more offices next to Citicorp's new pile.

ONE of Salomons' investment banking rivals, CSFB, has been searching for a new press spokesperson recently to replace Susie Pine-Coffin. I hear that such august personages as Simon Pincombe (Deutsche Morgan Grenfell), Kerry Underhill (SBC Warburg Dillon Read) and Leigh Bruce (Barclays Capital) have all been approached, and have all given the Swiss gnomes the cold shoulder.

Now CSFB have offered the job to Patricia Hamzahee, head of press at NatWest Markets. Will she accept? We wait with baited breath.

WAFIC Said has followed up his pounds 20m charitable donation to the Oxford Business School with a more commercial move, buying into a commercial property company for around pounds 1m.

Mr Said, a businessman originally from Saudi Arabia, and his business partner William Heard have bought 7.6 per cent of Merivale Moore via a specially created vehicle, Palamoun Limited. If all goes well they aim to expand the stake. Merivale's shares ended yesterday up 9p at 81.5p on the news.

Mr Heard, who started his career as a lawyer with Simmons & Simmons, says they aim to sell off Merivale's peripheral bits and concentrate on office and retail space in London.

He also has a watching brief over the Business School, which suffered a hiccup when various dons objected to its proposed new site on a cricket pitch next to Mansfield Road. "We've gone for a new location next to the railway station car park, and people seem to be happier," Mr Heard says.

Mr Said is also a keen follower of race horses and is sponsoring this year's 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas races at Newmarket next month.

The meeting will be titled "The Sagitta Guineas" after Mr Said's fund management business for high next worth individuals, Sagitta.

ROWLAND Gee, the dapper managing director of Moss Bros, gentleman's outfitters, was pleased as punch yesterday, as he told me of his recent brush with fame. The cast of Friends, a popular American TV comedy series, were in London to film a couple of episodes, and the chaps in the series descended on Moss Bros's Harrow branch to hire dinner jackets for a wedding scene.

While Mr Gee was thrilled that Chandler and co had plumped to patronise his shop, his commercial instincts did not desert him. Megastars or no, none of them got a discount.

MEGGITT, the engineering group based in Wimborne, Dorset, yesterday announced the death of its chairman Ken Coates, on 4 April. The company said: "Ken was the founder of the modern Meggitt and over the last 12 years transformed a small Dorset machine tool company into a leading, specialist international engineering group."

The company designs and manufactures equipment for the aerospace and defence industries. Mike Stacey, group chief executive, will temporarily take over the role of chairman until further notice.

INDIRA Gandhi would not be amused. Nearly 30 years after the former Prime Minister of India closed down that country's financial derivatives market for being too capitalist, a bunch of Brits has flown out to help start it up again.

Nick Durlacher, chairman of the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA), and Henrietta Royle, deputy chief executive of British Invisibles, are leading a team out there on 22 April to hold a seminar on derivatives markets.

British Invisibles was renamed "BI" at the beginning of the year, although I am assured this has nothing to do with Tony Blair's "Cool Britannia" re-branding exercise. It marked rather the merger with Ceenet, the organisation for projecting the City's merits to Eastern Europe.

Comments