People & Business : Stock Exchange shake-up brings in fresh faces

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The Independent Online
The London Stock Exchange has named five new committee heads, including Hector Sants, vice-chairman of UBS, in a comprehensive shake- up aimed at making the executive more responsive to participants in the stock market.

Ian Salter of Societe Generale has been appointed head of the primary markets committee, and Mr Sants head of secondary markets.

These two committees will dominate three smaller ones: Graham Allen of ICI Investment Management will head institutional investors, Nigel Sherolock of Wise Speke will head the private investors committee, and Sir Ian Prosser of Bass heads listed companies.

The shake-up stems from a review set up by LSE chairman John Kemp-Welch last July. The LSE is keenly aware of its out-of-touch image, made worse by the Taurus debacle four years ago and last year's ousting of chief executive Michael Lawrence.

The LSE says the new structure should "square the circle". Here's hoping.

Congratulations to Terri Collis, fanatical Southampton supporter and keen part-time astronomer, who has nabbed the long-vacant post of head spin doctor at NatWest.

The suave previous incumbent, Simon Lewis, resigned in July to join British Gas Energy, leaving NatWest's chairman Lord Alexander with a gap at his shoulder. Mr Collis, managing director of PR consultancy Lowe Bell Financial for the past four years, should fill the hole.

Sadly, Mr Collis was not prepared to discuss his "package", rumoured to be around pounds 130,000. Before Lowe Bell, Mr Collis was head mouthpiece at Vickers, where he was on the executive committee, and he enjoys similar exalted status at NatWest.

"I was approached by Victoria Provis of head hunters Odgers a couple of months ago and I'll be joining NatWest in the spring," he says.

Apart from his die-hard devotion to The Saints - he hails from Winchester in Hampshire - Mr Collis is also known for papering his office with his own photos of Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon.

"I shot them with my Meade SCT 10-inch reflector telescope from the roof terrace of my place in Pimlico," he declares proudly.

No doubt he will be able to read in the stars what is in store for NatWest's public image, which he admits has "room to move forward".

The much publicised fire in the Treasury on Tuesday was, I hear, much more damaging for the Office of National Statistics (ONS), housed in the same Whitehall building, than for the Treasury itself.

The ONS produces the annual National Accounts, and some observers are worried that publication of the Accounts, due on 20 December, might have to be postponed.

A spokesman for the ONS tells me: "The cause of the fire hasn't been confirmed. The fire authorities are still investigating. It may have been due to an electrical overload.

"Some staff in Great George Street [the Treasury building] have been affected because of the lack of power supplies to various offices."

He continues: "As far as the National Accounts are concerned, quite a lot of staff are unable to sit in their offices due to lack of light, power and their PCs not working.

"The National Accounts data has a back-up which has not been affected so we are carrying on. We don't expect the publication date to be endangered." Thank goodness for that. Otherwise it would bring a new meaning to the phrase "cooking the books".

Nick Batram, an analyst at brokers Grieg Middleton, is a brave man. He's urging clients to buy shares in Tottenham Hotspur.

This despite the fact that Spurs were humiliated 6-1 by Bolton last week in the Coca Cola Cup, and lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool on Monday.

In Mr Batram's "buy" note, he writes: "The financial performance in recent years has been strong despite a lack of success on the pitch and the well publicised boardroom distractions."

How clever of Spurs' chairman Alan Sugar to buy a football club that can get thrashed and still coin it.