PEOPLE & BUSINESS

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The Independent Online
The troops at BZW equity capital markets are putting a brave face on things despite being up for sale. Yesterday they launched the book- building exercise for the $15bn flotation of Telecom Italia, for which BZW is the global co-ordinator.

And they did it in style. Charles Kirwan-Taylor, managing director of equity capital markets, tells me: "We had a gondola on the trading floor serving Italian ice-cream, we had Italian flags flying and a big Telecom banner on the ceiling. We've been working on this deal for two years. It's been an exciting day."

Mr Kirwan-Taylor was commendably tight-lipped when it came to naming possible buyers of his own business. All he would say was that the Telecom job was "a tremendous thing to have on the tail of the [BZW] sale announcement, since it focuses everyone's energies". Incidentally, it's understandable why CSFB have emerged as one of the favourites to buy the unwanted bits of BZW. Paul Hofer and his fellow Swiss Gnomes work next door to BZW's shiny new offices in Canary Wharf.

Chairman of Care First, Keith Bradshaw, is going back to the drawing board over the naming of "an exciting new project which will help fill a gaping hole in a growing sector of the care service market".

The UK's largest quoted nursing home group, which lost its chief executive, Chai Patel, last month, sent out an announcement for a new project called Cottage Industry: "Care First embarks on the development of one- and two- bedroom cottages in the grounds of Cottenham Court Nursing Home, Cambridge, one of their 135 homes situated across the country."

The following day I received a further missive from the company: "This is a note to say could you possibly postpone reporting this story for the time being? This may seem trivial, but Care First has had second thoughts about describing this accommodation as "cottages", and is considering alternative descriptions. We will inform you of the agreed description as soon as possible."

Baffled, I rang a Care First spokeswoman and asked what was wrong with "cottages". "I don't know," she replied. "Your guess is as good as mine. [The name] is on hold for a week." What on earth can it all mean?

Rowland Gee, managing director of Moss Bros, was waxing lyrical yesterday on the recovery of high street menswear shops after a steady decline prompted by out-of-town shopping centres. Mr Gee suggested the proliferation of fashion magazines for men such as GQ and FHM had made the average British male more fashion conscious.

So, what is the well-dressed man-about- town sporting this season? Mr Gee muses: "Wool fabrics with a bit of stretch in them, moleskin, double- breasted suits are making a comeback and a new man-made material called polynosic fabric." And how about colours? "Oh, charcoal greys, blacks, browns and gem tones like forest green and ruby red."

Speaking of fashion, Debenham's chief, Terry Green, has signed a deal with JCB, the makers of shiny yellow bulldozers. They are going to produce a line of menswear together. Stand by for a rash of donkey jackets and yellow hard hats.

The last British investment banks may or may not be about to be gobbled up by the Americans. Comfort yourself with the fact that last weekend in New York the Royal Mail Letters team won the men's race in the Chase Corporate Challenge Championship.

Not only that, a three-woman team from HSBC Midland won the women's title, while a NatWest bank team won the co-ed title.

In the individual events, Nick Wetheridge of NatWest Bank won the 3.5- mile race in 16 minutes, 32 seconds. We may not be able to operate a bulge bracket investment bank, but we can't half run.

A team from City lawyers Ashurst Morris Crisp were in Stockholm with partner Mark Wippell to advise Skandia on the sale of its international re-insurance business to Hanover Re when one of their number ran into a problem.

James Perry, a partner with Ashurst, had flown out for one day to help with the deal, but ended up staying 10, such was its complexity. Mr Perry realised he would need achange of clothes and asked a colleague to bring another suit over from Blighty.

When the taxi from the airport turned up with the replacement suit, James's colleague was out and the garment was left with a neighbour, who left for Chile. James was Suitless in Stockholm. Our hero ended up wearing a green Burberry jumper, bought at the airport for him, for 10 days. His pals say he looked "the quintessential Englishman abroad".

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