PEOPLE & BUSINESS

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Question: What does cider, the favoured drink of the nation's younger drinkers, have in common with ball bearings? Answer: Well, not very much, on the face of it.

But John Rudgard, head of HP Bulmer, the Hereford-based cider maker, would beg to differ. "There are some important common threads," said Mr Rudgard, who yesterday started work as non-executive director at Birmingham ball bearing distributor Wyko Group. So what precisely are these similarities? They are twofold, apparently. First, the importance of distribution to both Bulmers and Wyko. Second, in Mr Rudgard's own words, the commitment of both groups to "quality customer service".

Mr Rudgard reckons his latest post should take up only around 15 days a year. With a bit of luck, he should still be able to indulge in a bit of cycling. "I do try and ride my bike every day," he confided yesterday. "Whatever the weather, you'll find me out on my bike on the hills of Hereford." For the less hardy among us, the prospect of cycling in the miserable November weather is sufficient to send us scuttling back under the duvet. Not so Mr Rudgard, who is also a keen sailor.

In fact, Mr Rudgard's first job was as apprentice navigator for the Cunard cruise liner company. But life on an ocean wave turned out to be less than ideal. Apparently days and days out at sea are not conducive to marital bliss, which prompted his departure for a land-based job. But presumably 15 days a year in Birmingham shouldn't prove too much of a strain.

Robin Miller, group chief executive of Emap, has finally won out in the power struggle to succeed Sir John Hoskyns as non-executive chairman. Mr Miller, who takes the post next July, will be replaced by Kevin Hand, who currently runs Emap's French magazine operations.

Rumours had circulated for months that Mr Hand would soon exchange steak frites for roast beef on returning to England, so analysts were not surprised at yesterday's announcement. Sir John has previously indicated he would retire at the company's annual general meeting in July. Mr Hand became head of Emap France in 1994 when the group acquired Les Editions Mondiales for pounds 106m. Since buying Tele Star for pounds 139m, the company now has a 17 per cent share of the French consumer magazine market.

Emap must hope the management changes will mark the end of a period of boardroom turbulence at the company. Last autumn, Mr Miller became embroiled in a dispute over succession with David Arculus, Emap's former managing director and now chief operating officer of United News & Media. The wrangle indirectly resulted in the ousting of two non-executive directors, Ken Simmonds and Joe Cooke.

Emap also announced yesterday that Adam Broadbent would join the board as a non-executive director. Mr Broadbent was a director of Schroders, where he was group managing director of investment banking, based in New York.

What with Deutsche Morgan Grenfell failing to get its hands on parts of NatWest Markets and the well-publicised efforts of Martin Taylor, head of Barclays, to flog BZW, John Dewhurst, ex- manager of acquisitions at ICI, has picked an apt time to launch his book. Buying a Company - The Key to Successful Acquisitions is launched tomorrow and provides "a step- by-step guide to the intricacies of purchasing a business".

Mr Dewhurst should know a thing or two about buying companies. During his time at ICI, he was involved in more than 300 acquisitions and more than 300 disposals. He wheeled and dealed businesses worth around pounds 7bn.

For the acquisitive Rolf Breuer, head of Deutsche Bank, there is plenty of sound advice. Mr Dewhurst offers words of wisdom on all aspects of the process, from initial evaluation of targets to post-acquisition management.

And for Mr Taylor of Barclays and Derek Wanless, head of NatWest, there is also a chapter on selling a business. Apparently the most important thing for the seller to remember is that he is in "complete control of the process of selling from its initiation to its completion".

Words of comfort, no doubt, to Mr Taylor and Mr Wanless. Some scurrilous observers may have thought the two senior executives were not in control of events at all, but rather were forced into action by discontented shareholders. Thank heavens Mr Dewhurst has put paid to such notions.

The latest edition of Credit Lyonnais Laing's review of investment trusts lauds the often-overlooked smaller company. It argues that fund managers should be overweight in companies with small market capitalisation in their portfolios. Hence the snappy title of the edition, Overweight in Small Caps (caps, of course, stands for market capitalisation). The picture accompanying the title is of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Tom Tuite-Dalton, investment analyst at Credit Lyonnais Laing, was at pains to point out yesterday that any likeness to any paunchy fund managers was purely coincidental. "It is a genuine concern," he said, adding that Tweedledum and Tweedledee were, in fact, modelled on two recent recruits to the investment trust team, Jamie Lowe and Matthew Kinkead.

"But of course we acknowledge the fact that there are a number of well- lunched fund managers," he quipped diplomatically.

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