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Picking up the pieces

Drama and crisis are no strangers to the team of adminstrators from Ernst & Young who are in charge of sorting out the mess at Barings.

Nigel Hamilton, the senior insolvency practitioner of the trio, has in his time helped wind up Laker Airways and pursue the Barlow Clowes gilts fraud. He played a big part in rescuing Canary Wharf from the collapse of the Reichmann brother's business empire.

A burly former rugby player, Mr Hamilton, 53, was born and brought up in Newcastle and educated at Loreto School, Musselburgh, near Glasgow. He set up E&Y's insolvency department in Newcastle, and became a partner in London in 1973.

Mr Hamilton's co-adminstrators are Alan Bloom, a rising star of insolvency who made his name with the Canary Wharf rescue, and Maggie Mills, coordinating partner of E&Y's European Corporate Recovery network.

All three have played a central role in the adminsitration of British & Commonwealth, John Gunn's financial services group which spectacularly came a cropper at the end of the 1980s.

The administration procedure was introduced in the Insolvency Act 1986 specifically to provide a more effective way of saving companies than traditional receivership.

Modelled on the American Chapter 11 procedure, it allows businesses to continue trading and protects them from litigation and creditors' claims while a rescue package is put together. Mr Hamilton has a maximum of three months before presenting his proposals to creditors, but he will have to move far faster than that to save Barings.