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People & Business: Bell tolls for two more PR firms

LORD TIM BELL's spin doctoring empire, Chime Communications, has spawned a new subsidiary. John Antcliffe and two other senior spinners from Bell Pottinger, Chime's main operation, are splitting off to form a second PR firm, Smithfield Financial.

The affable Mr Antcliffe is taking two directors, John Kiely and Michael Oke, to the new subsidiary as well as such weighty clients as Scottish & Newcastle, Stagecoach and Enterprise Oil.

But what on earth does Lord Bell need another financial PR firm for? Piers Pottinger and his troops already perform a sterling service in that field. Is Smithfield evidence of a damaging split with Antcliffe & Co?

"No, absolutely not", declares Mr Antcliffe. "Tim (Lord Bell) has been keen for a while now to develop a second brand."

"WPP has J Walter Thompson as well as Ogilvy & Mather. Tim sees no reason why Chime can't have two brands," says Mr Antcliffe. So there you have it. Keeping up with the Sorrells, you might say.

The new operation will be wholly owned by Chime - no juicy equity stake for Antcliffe & Co. The new offices will take them from Bell Pottinger's location in Red Lion Court off Fleet Street, north east to Cowcross Street in trendy Clerkenwell, just round the corner from Smith New Court's old offices on Farringdon Road, now part of Merrill Lynch.

Mr Antcliffe enthuses: "We're keen to build a more international dimension than here (Chime). We will see some rapid changes in the European equity markets in the next couple of years, and we want to take advantage of that."

All good PR speak. Mark Woolfenden, a manager at rival spin doctors Dewe Rogerson, will also join, and Mr Antcliffe anticipates "one or two others' from other agencies hopping on board.

Speaking of Dewe Rogerson, it cannot be long before the impending bid by Incepta, owners of Citigate, plops through Dewe's letter box. The lucky chaps at Dewe are set to trouser around pounds 25m, markets permitting, of course.

DAVID SAUNDERSON calls to tell me he has just bought a pensions advisory scheme with pounds 300m in funds under management from Minet, the Lloyd's of London broker, along with a team of four Minet executives.

Mr Saunderson founded his own private client boutique, Saunderson House, in 1979, and this latest deal more than doubles his workforce to 15.

Mr Saunderson has bought the Individual Pension Portfolio Advisory Service (IPPAS) from Minet for an undisclosed sum. The service advises City professionals on their pension arrangements.

The four executives joining Saunderson are Donald Birts, previously chairman of Minet Consultancy Services; Ian McNally, formerly a client manager at the same firm; Michael Harrison, who was a divisional director with Minet in Leeds; and Ian Chalmers, who was responsible for investment research at Minet. Mr Chalmers was also formerly a director of BZW UK Equities.

Mr Saunderson, 42, originally trained as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse. He is now keen to expand further. But, he is quick to add that he has "no plans to float".

NEXT JANUARY sees the arrival of the euro - as long as the Russian crisis hasn't blown everything off course by then. The British Museum is marking the launch with an exhibition called "Earlier Monetary Unions", which should be of interest to eurosceptics and europhiles alike.

The main point of the show is that this is not the first time a common currency has existed in Europe. The first part traces the history of monetary union from the Roman Empire to the present day, using the museum's vast collection of coins and medals.

The museum says: "Particular attention is paid to the role of Britain in these past endeavours, from the issues of British usurpers of the Roman throne, through the abortive preparations for British participation in the Latin Monetary Union, to the fanciful designs for the British ecu."

This will surely have Lord Tebbit and his ilk foaming at the mouth. He might be cheered up by the many failed attempts at union, which are also illustrated in the show.

The exhibition lasts from 23 September to 10 January 1999 in Room 69a. The gallery is sponsored by Visa International and admission is free.

MEN ARE being encouraged by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund to show their support, literally, in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing a bra to work on the outside of their shirt.

The City should be quite a sight.

And for the faint hearted, the fund is asking men to wear something pink "such as a handkerchief in their breast pocket".

Firms that have already signed up to support the Awareness Month include NatWest and Alliance & Leicester. A spokeswoman for the fund assures me, however, that chaps in the aforesaid banks will be sporting hankies rather than bras. What a relief!