PEOPLE & BUSINESS

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The Independent Online
Don Cruickshank, director-general of Oftel, is planning to write a book on his experiences in the media and telecoms industry, I can exclusively reveal. The telecoms regulator hosted a final drinks party for the industry yesterday at Oftel's offices in Ludgate Hill to mark Mr Cruickshank's imminent departure next year.

The nervous author said his only worry was: "I'm not sure if there's a market for a boring telecoms book." Such modesty. He added that he's taking a "gap year" off when he leaves Oftel. Questioned further, he became very coy about his future.

Whatever he does, he said that he definitely won't be doing anything in the media or telecoms area for at least a year, as such a potential conflict of interest would offend his personal morality. (It's just as well he didn't go into politics).

His successor at the helm of Oftel has not been decided yet, although telecoms aficionados say a shortlist of hopefuls is to be drawn up before Christmas.

Amongst the crowd sipping lukewarm white wine at the Oftel shindig were Mike Grabiner, chief executive of freshly floated Energis, and Chris Gent, head of Vodafone. There was also a gaggle of civil servants from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Mr Cruickshank didn't say what he was going to call his book. How about "Making the pips squeak"?

Sir David Rowland isn't going to write a book about his five tempestuous years at the head of Lloyd's of London, as far as I know. He is, however, going to take over as the next President of Templeton College, Oxford University's graduate management college. When he dons his mortar board he will be working closely with the newly founded Said Business School, which has close links to Templeton. While the latter, founded in the 1960s with a donation from British-born fund manager John Templeton, will concentrate on postgraduate teaching and links with the business world, the Said school will mostly deal with MBAs.

Having turned around the near-bankrupt insurance market in Lime Street, will Sir David regret swapping the world of Mammon for that of Academe, I asked?

"I'm 64 years old. My time at Lloyd's has been an extraordinary experience. I'm absolutely sure its time for another leader here," he says. "I'm just lucky that I'm going to something so interesting."

Moving from the dreaming spires to the city of Liverpool, a former Beatles drummer has been made chairman of the trustees of the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside (NMGM).

No, its not Ringo, its David McDonnell, national managing partner of Grant Thornton, the accountancy firm. When he was at school in Liverpool Mr McDonnell played the drums twice with the fledgling Quarrymen, a skiffle group who later became the Beatles.

Mr McDonnell claims to have been "roughed up" by fellow pupil John Lennon while attending Quarry Bank School. No doubt the young Lennon got irritated by Mr McDonnell's constant references to contingent liabilities and the like.

Talking of auditors, while the usual pundits have been expressing various degrees of shock and outrage at the revelation that most of South Korea's giant conglomerates have never been independently audited, I see an opportunity for UK Plc.

The Korean economy may have gone pear-shaped recently thanks to the currency crisis, but it's enjoyed double-digit growth rates for the last couple of decades. Therefore, why don't we scrap the requirement for independent audits in the UK and unleash a similar burst of growth here? That would save Britain an estimated pounds 4.3bn in audit fees a year (figures from International Accounting Bulletin).

And it gets better. When our "Korean style" boom inevitably goes phut we can rely on the IMF to bail us out. We had a dry run with the boys from the Fund in the 1970s. Think about it, no more accountants...

Is Bradford & Bingley Building Society's much vaunted commitment to mutuality weakening? The society has appointed Ruth Blakemore, formerly marketing director of Cable & Wireless, to be its new commercial director. Ms Blakemore, 38, previously spent four years with Virgin Atlantic and five years with the DMB&B advertising group.

I find it hard to believe that such a commercial live-wire has really been taken on to maintain B&B's traditional worthy-but-dull image. My bet is a conversion announcement in the new year.

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