People & Business

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The Independent Online
Kenneth Clarke, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, may not be taking a seat on the board at his beloved Nottingham Forest. But he remains as keen as mustard to get involved in some capacity. So as Forest heads for the market, the Hush Puppies king is going to do what any other diehard fan would - get his cheque book out and subscribe for shares.

Mr Clarke made his pledge at the party on Tuesday night to celebrate The Independent's new look. Propping up the bar at Mezzo, the Soho eaterie, Mr Clarke responded with alacrity when prompted about the First Division club's forthcoming AIM float.

"Thanks for reminding me," he said, pint in one hand, cigar in the other. "I'll have to get on the phone to my broker."

Sir Adrian Cadbury has long been an advocate of better standards in Britain's boardrooms. After all, it was his committee's report back at the start of this decade that set UK plc on the bout of soul-searching that successive Greenbury and Hampel reports have not cured. So it is appropriate that he should be involved in the launch by the Institute of Management of two tools designed to help top teams assess their levels of skill and competency and so identify areas that need to be brushed up on.

Check-A-Board, like the Directors' Development Audit, developed with the aid of staff assessment experts Saville & Holdsworth, comes complete with a foreword by the great man in which he says: "The days when directors could pick up the job as they went along are over." Perhaps a few copies should be winging their way in the direction of former Cabinet ministers looking for employment.

After two years of stability, it's all change at the Financial Times' Lex Column. Jane Fuller, head of UK companies at the FT and Joe Johnson, younger brother of Boris Johnson, the Telegraph's political pundit, have been appointed to replace two of Lex's five-strong team. Mr Johnson is a hot shot corporate financier at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell while Ms Fuller, who switches desks in October, is a long-time server at the FT. They replace ex-Treasury man John Kingman, who goes to BP, and Simon Davies, who will edit the FT's capital markets section.

Pity Ron Paterson, doyen of accountants Ernst & Young's never-say-die technical department. While most City types were spending August sunning themselves on beaches he was hard at work on the latest edition of the bean counters' bible, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United Kingdom. Meeting today's publication date entailed "several all- nighters", he reflects. "Bigger and better" at a stunning 1,863 pages, the weighty tome makes a wonderful bookend or doorstop as well as comprehensive guide to the intricacies of the world of finance. But aficionados of these things looking for signs of the continuing "differences of opinion" between Mr Paterson and fellow Scot, David Tweedie of the Accounting Standards Board, are likely to be disappointed.

Mr Paterson and his team are more even-handed towards the ASB and have moved on to international themes. "We've given more prominence to the International Accounting Standards Committee because it's going to affect the UK more than before," he explains.

The revolution rolls on at GEC with the appointment to the board of Bill Castell, chief executive of the life sciences group Amersham International. Mr Castell, who has apparently been recruited for his skills in innovation, is the third new non-exec hired since George Simpson took over at the helm last September.

No word yet, however, on which one of the non-execs will take on the trickiest role at Stanhope Gate - chairing GEC's remuneration committee. After the fist Lord Rees Mogg made of the job, whoever GEC selects will need innovative skills by the bucketful.