PEOPLE & BUSINESS

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The Independent Online
YESTERDAY's move by the accountancy profession's Joint Disciplinary Scheme (JDS) against Coopers & Lybrand over its role as Robert Maxwell's auditor comes as the current issue of Financial Director magazine reveals that the late tycoon would almost certainly have passed the corporate governance checklists devised to prevent a repeat of "the Maxwell scandal".

Putting the 1991 Maxwell Communications Corporation (MCC) annual report and the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) prospectus to the test in the light of the proposed supercode amalgamation of the Cadbury, Greenbury and Hampel corporate governance reports, the magazine concludes that Maxwell would have acquitted himself well on paper, if not in his real-life dealings.

The checklist covers the super-code key principles concerning directors, directors' pay, relations with shareholders and auditor procedures. Both MCC and MGN score highly, even outperforming other conglomerates.

FD concludes: "The unnerving truth is that the public, official face of Maxwell was quite acceptable to the City."

I knew it: perhaps he wasn't such a bad chap after all. I'm sure the DTI's report into the Mirror's flotation, when its finally published, will bear this out.

THE LONDON Business School (LBS) in Regent's Park has got a new team at the top, led by John Quelch, a former Harvard Professor who become Dean of the LBS on 1 July. Vanni Treves, senior partner at Macfarlanes, the law firm, and chairman of Channel Four, becomes the chairman of the governing body. Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group becomes the deputy chairman.

The school also has three new governors: The redoubtable Dame Sheila Masters, a partner at KPMG and a director of the Bank of England; Jonathan J Ledecky, chairman and chief executive officer of Consolidation Capital Corporation, a facilities management company; and Robert F White, a managing director of Bain Capital, a private equity firm based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr Treves takes over the role of head of the governing body from Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who has spent eight years as chairman. Lord Sainsbury remains as a governor.

Mr Treves commented yesterday: "There is a great deal of ambition and promise in the air of Regent's Park." I must get down there and sniff some immediately. I wonder if you can bottle it. Hang on a minute, there's a business opportunity here....

OVER to the west of the capital lies the LBS's rival, Henley Management College, which holds its degree ceremony this Saturday. The shindig will include the first MBAs to be awarded by Henley itself.

There was concern, however, when Sir Roger Hurn of Smiths Industries, chairman of Henleys' board of governors, couldn't find his ceremonial cap for the forthcoming degree awards, where he is due to lead the proceedings.

He was just about to order another one when he found his cap in the garage - where he had left it after a grouse shooting trip.

I'VE NOTHING against people publicising their case, but the people organising the "Millennium Bug Economic Breakfast Seminar" this Thursday have gone a bit over the top.

Describing one of the speakers at the event at the Dorchester Hotel, Jan Timmer, the organisers write: "Chairman of the Millennium Platform, The Netherlands. Mr Timmer's appointment by the Dutch Prime Minister, Mr Wim Kok, was a stroke of political and economic genius."

Cripes. The organisers go on: "Considered to be the most influential year 2000 Czar in the world, he has utilised his power base at Philips, possibly the most influential company in the Netherlands, to galvanise both private and public sectors into meteoric action on year 2000 issues since his appointment."

Blimey. As if this wasn't enough about the man who has downsized thousands of Philips employees, Insurance Specialist proclaims: "referred to as `the Gary Lineker of the Netherlands', recently he can do no wrong in the eyes of the Dutch public."

Come on Jan, hand the crisps back....

I HAVE received a press release informing me that one Peter Childs has been appointed director of the professional services division in UK, Ireland and the Benelux countries for BEA Systems, "a leading provider of distributed mission critical enterprise middleware solutions".

Remember when people used to write in plain English?

THIS is much more like it: "DIAL-A-DRINK", a service which delivers booze and soft drinks to your home, has just been launched in York. The sooner it reaches my area the better....

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