People & Business: From British Lions to exporting expertise

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Most rugby fans will remember Andy Ripley as a long-haired Number Eight from the 1970s who played for Rosslyn Park, England and the British Lions, usually with his socks pushed down round his ankles.

Step forward Andy Ripley, author of Forfaiting for Exporters. Mr Ripley now works for the London Forfaiting Company, following a series of similar jobs in the City, and doesn't pretend that his latest tome has anything other than "a limited audience".

"It's not one of those books that you can't put down - it's rather the kind of thing you put underneath wobbly tables," he says self-depracatingly. Basically, the book tells exporters how to save money.

Mr Ripley has words of warning for the current professionalisation of rugby union: "Call me an embittered old man, but I just don't see how the sums add up." Perhaps the RFU should embrace forfaiting.

These are not happy times for the people charged with running the Said Business School in Oxford, following the dons' public rejection of Mr Said's pounds 20m proposals on Tuesday evening.

For starters, what happens to John Kay, the director designate of the school who has already resigned his place as head of London Economics? His successor at the London consultancy, Baroness Hogg, is already in residence.

Yesterday Mr Kay's PA told me: "He's spoken to me about this and he has no comment to make at the moment."

Colin Mayer, acting director of the School of Management at Oxford, told me the position. "The university remains fully committed to developing management studies at Oxford. On Monday the University's Council will consider [whether to launch] a postal vote of the university's 3,200 members."

Mr Mayer, whose school is leasing space from the Radcliffe Infirmary at the moment, said that while there had been objections to the proposed school's new site on playing fields in the middle of Oxford, that was the only possible location. "The university has done an exhaustive search." No site, no new college.

Mr Mayer would not be drawn on Mr Kay's position. He did say however: "If the postal vote did turn out badly then we would clearly have to re- evaluate the future development of the business school."

If the Said Business School does jump these hurdles, then the past few weeks should form a classic case study for students of how not to do it.

David Nussbaum is leaving Field Group, the paper and packaging company where he is finance director, to take up a similar post at Oxfam.

Mr Nussbaum has had to give six months' notice under this contract, but says he may negotiate an earlier exit. He says he has been "very happy" at Field. So is he joining Oxfam as a career move or in order to work for a charity?

"A bit of both really. I had no intention of leaving Field, then a friend of mine told me the job at Oxfam was coming up. I'll be on a senior team, and it's a very interesting organisation to be involved with."

Oxfam's turnover of pounds 100m compares to Field's pounds 200m-plus, so they aren't so dissimilar in some ways, says Mr Nussbaum. Oxfam has 3,000 employees, half of them overseas, as well as 25,000 volunteers working in more than 800 shops.

Lord Tebbit, the former Conservative chairman, has retired as a non- executive director of BT after nine years on the board. The Chingford bruiser is still a non-exec at Sears, which he joined in 1988. Now he will be able to devote more time to his other main activities, Sky TV political interviewer and Sun columnist.

On the subject of BT, my heartfelt apologies to Ted Graham, the company's chief spin doctor, who is miffed about my report on Tuesday that while analysts cheered the serving of champagne at the BT/MCI reception, the journalists turned their noses up at the bubbly.

"The journalists drank over twice as much as the analysts," he storms. "It just goes to show that journalists are still living the high life."

Quite so. Of course if I had been there I wouldn't have touched a drop.