People & Business

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The Independent Online
Sir Peter Middleton, chairman of BZW and former Whitehall mandarin, can't be having much fun at the moment. Not only have BZW's equity and corporate finance bits been put up for sale, Sir Peter has also been forced to write to all those thousands of people invited to BZW's opening ceremony for its shiny new offices in London's Docklands to cancel the party.

"Though we are all very proud of the new building, it seems inappropriate to proceed with the Canary Wharf opening ceremony on the 27th of October," he writes. "I regret any inconvenience which this may have caused, but I am sure that you will understand."

We do, Sir Peter. How about a closing-down party instead?

Neil Cooper, one of Britain's premier international receivers, has left his long-time home at medium-sized accountancy firm Robson Rhodes to join niche insolvency practice Buchler Phillips.

Mr Cooper is also about to become head of Insol, the global professional body for corporate undertakers, sorry, rescuers. He sprang to prominence five years ago when he was appointed to wind up Bishopsgate Investment Management, the late Robert Maxwell's pensions fund vehicle where Mr Cooper helped discover a pounds 400m black hole.

In the subsequent trial of Robert Maxwell's sons, Kevin and Ian, in which both were acquitted of fraud charges, Kevin's barrister, Alun Jones QC, accused Mr Cooper of appearing in newspaper photos "in Napoleonic poses", much to the merriment of the press gallery. Sadly Mr Cooper was unavailable for comment yesterday, as he was flying to Toledo for the weekend. Businessmen of Spain, you have been warned.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lost one of its best experts on emerging markets, just as it is under pressure to provide an emergency fund to Indonesia. David Folkerts-Landau, who was closely involved in the IMF's financial rescue package for Mexico two years ago, has been poached by Deutsche Morgan Grenfell.

Mr Folkerts-Landau will become managing director and global head of DMG's emerging markets research. No doubt the IMF folks in its Washington head office will be gnashing their teeth. The currency turmoil which has hit Thailand, Malaysia and other Asian "tiger" economies seems tailor-made for his skills. He's only just published a paper for the IMF titled "Toward a Framework for Financial Stability," for heaven's sake. Not that this will bother DMG. It aims to build the world's top ranked research and economics team by 1999.

John Dean once swore to colleagues that he would "never, never work in London". Well, the professional northerner and smaller companies analyst is now. Mr Dean has left brokers Albert E Sharp in Birmingham and taken the M1 to SBC Warburg, in the City's Broadgate complex, to follow small engineering companies.

Mr Dean's career has moved steadily southward. Before Sharp's he worked at Wise Speke in Newcastle, and before that he was at Ivory & Sime in Edinburgh. At this rate he should make Alice Springs by the millennium.

Mr Dean will be replaced at Sharp's by Steven Medlicott, who is currently working at brokers Harris Allday in Birmingham.

A colleague of mine was driving back from France to the UK last week via Le Shuttle when Calais was hit by an appalling storm. The terminal was lashed by wind and rain and trains through the tunnel were delayed because of the conditions. My colleague advanced to the counter to book in, only to see Brian Dix , boss of Le Shuttle, dealing directly with customer announcements.

Mr Dix certainly showed a commendable willingness to "muck in", standing there in his yellow and green Eurotunnel anorak. The service remained pretty chaotic, though.

Goodbye Cowie Group, hello Arriva. The Sunderland-based bus and motor company has spent up to pounds 1.5m rebranding itself, not least because its name sounds too much like "cow" to Continental ears.

After all, the bus operator and distributor is hard at work expanding into Denmark and the rest of northern Europe. As a spokesman puts it: "[Cowie] looks at first glance like a farmyard animal and people will think of it in those terms."

Dumping the name also distances the bus operator from its founder, Tom Cowie, who left the group in 1994.

Even Sir James McKinnon, the company's chairman, admits that: "We are conscious of one major potential limitation on our future rate of development - the Cowie brand itself."

The company spokesman added that Arriva "will transfer easily and positively" in mainland Europe and Scandinavia.

He said the name would give it a modern image and "a customer- friendly brand with a feminine style and value".

Well, Arriva sounds like a cross between a women's magazine and the Spanish word arriba to me. Which may be no bad thing.

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