People & Business: Third time lucky as Snoddy moves over to Murdoch

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The Independent Online
Raymond Snoddy, the Financial Times' distinguished media correspondent, is off to The Times to become its media editor for "a six-figure sum", I hear.

Mr Snoddy is the doyen of the pink'un's industrial correspondents and has been at the paper for more than a decade. It is understood he has been offered the Times post three times in the past, and thrice has he declined it.

So why now (apart from the wonga, of course)? One explanation may be an increasingly close relationship with the Murdoch family. Mr Snoddy is the only UK journalist that Rupert Murdoch deigns to talk to. He went so far as to name Mr Murdoch "FT Man of the Year" last December, describing him as "now the most powerful media tycoon in history in terms of his global reach and the diversity of his media interests which range from Hollywood to newspapers such as The Sun, his highly profitable UK tabloid". Now there's a job application if ever I saw one.

Just last week Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert's daughter and head of programmes at BSkyB, invited Mr Snoddy to her Fourth of July party for "close friends". Mr Snoddy got to sit at Mr Murdoch's table.

One potential problem occurs to me, however - just how many of Mr Snoddy's many media contacts will still be happy to talk to him now he is on the Murdoch payroll? We'll see.

Speaking of Elisabeth Murdoch, she was spotted at Wimbledon last week as the guest of Bob Phillis, deputy director-general and chief executive of BBC Worldwide.

Since the tennis tournament is a "listed" event which, for the time being, cannot be bought up by BSkyB, what was Ms Murdoch doing there being wined and dined by the Beeb, which still provides Wimbledon coverage free of charge? I think we should be told.

Paul Kafka, Fidelity's puckish head of corporate relations, is at home nursing swollen knees after a heroic weekend during which he scaled Snowden, Ben Nevis and Sca Fell Pike within 24 hours.

He did it in order to raise pounds 5,500 for the Downs Syndrome Association, but that only partially soothes his aching frame.

"I'll never do it again," moans the former Nomura spokesman.

Ben Nevis was "very exhilarating" in the early morning, but the weather was awful. This was as nothing to Sca Fell Pike in the Lake District, "an appalling place".

"I never want to see it again. It took six hours and it was wet and miserable," says our hero.

"We got lost in fog once, so we had to blow our little whistle to get back on track. We ran out of petrol in Kendal - it's lucky we were at the top of a hill so we could roll down to Kendal to get to the petrol station."

Snowden was "magnificent - the weather was clear - but my knees were swelling up from the pressure of going downhill". Fidelity should give him a medal, or at least pay for his physio.

A management consultant has been selected to succeed a former director of the Victoria & Albert Museum to be vice chancellor of the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Vincent Watts, 56, a senior partner with Andersen Consulting, has decided he has done his bit for the firm and now fancies a second career in academe.

He will take up his appointment in October on the retirement of Dame Elizabeth Esteve-Coll, who is stepping down because of ill health just two years into the job.

Mr Watts had to go through a three-month selection procedure to clinch the role, and heard of his success yesterday morning: "I've been at Andersen's for 33 years, and I thought if I'm going to do anything else with my life, I should do it now."

Mr Watts recalls: "I nearly became an academic when I took my degree at Cambridge in the Sixties. I did molecular biology. It was a very exciting time. The genetic code was being unravelled."

His job now will be rather more practical, in particular working out how the university can pay its way. The Dearing Committee report on higher education funding is due out next week.

How much of a culture shock will it be dealing with a scruffy lot of students after the elevated world of Andersen Consulting? Mr Watts is unfazed; "I don't think it'll be a shock for me. I've visited campuses a lot, recruiting for Andersen's. Students are just very bright young people who are trying to make sense of life and we're helping them do it."

Julian Jessop, an economist with Nikko, has just published EMU Briefing Number Four, a research note which includes 14 questions and answers on Europe's monetary future. Mr Jessop's first question is: "What is EMU anyway?"

As one of my colleagues pointed out, this sounds uncomfortably close to "Who cares?"