Pint-'n-panatella wielder wins confidence of trust

People & Business
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The Independent Online
Ken Clarke has just accepted a job that will pay him pounds 18,000 a year for turning up to a board meeting once a month.

Okay, so the pint-'n-panatella wielding former Chancellor will also be on call to Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust to offer advice on finance and economics.

Still, its not exactly selling the Big Issue outside Waterloo Station. Our Ken, the best Prime Minister we never had, has got his first post- Number 11 job - as a non-executive director at F&C.

Mr Clarke is on holiday in the US - the first he's had since 1979, according to Jeremy Tigue, manager of F&C. "Robin Leigh-Pemberton, the former Governor of the Bank of England, is on our board and he knows Ken Clarke. It was his idea to approach Ken. Our chairman, John Slater, approached him after the Tory leadership election," Mr Tigue said.

How very cosy. Now to the serious question: Are F&C directors allowed to smoke during board meetings? Mr Clarke is a confirmed chain-smoker of pungent cigarillos, after all. Mr Tigue says: "None of the current directors do - although some of them smoke outside board meetings. I'll have to ask the chairman about this."

Mr Clarke starts his new job on the 1September when he returns from his summer break, although the first board meeting isn't until 10 September. Not to worry, Mr Tigue is sanguine about the markets: "We're not expecting a crash or anything."

The first casualty of the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger has been Boeing's European network of public relations consultants. In all, the Seattle aircraft manufacturer is dispensing with the services of 10 PR men including, in this country, the estimable Dick Kenny.

Mr Kenny was the voice of Boeing in Britain for two and a half decades and the man every aviation hack contacted whenever a jumbo fell out of the sky or a multi-billion pound order was in the offing. He does not intend to shut up shop, he tells me. Dick Kenny Associates will continue in business at Little Pinkneys, its Maidenhead HQ.

"Boeing opened a lot of doors to me over the past 26 years and some of them might just prove attractive to others," he says.

Anglian Water's John Smith has been appointed head of regulation at Railtrack. A bit of a "poacher turned gamekeeper" scenario this, as rumour has it that Mr Smith spent most of his time at Anglian complaining about Ofwat, the water regulator.

Now he will be dealing with Railtrack's two regulators, which rejoice under the Pooterish titles Office of Passenger Rail Franchise and Office of the Rail Regulator.

Perhaps Mr Smith could look into a right mess that Railtrack has got itself into. It has decided not to renew the lease for the Southall Railway Centre in west London, leaving the GWR Preservation Group nowhere to show its vintage trains. Railtrack wants to use the train sheds involved to house the Flying Scotsman and other rolling stock owned by Dr Tony Marchington, chief executive of Oxford Molecular Group.

There was good news this week for the Southall railway buffs - Railtrack has given them a six-week stay of execution. But surely Mr Smith can help find them a permanent home?

Has Sunday Business, the newspaper founded by Tom Rubython last April that recently went belly-up, finally found a new owner in the Barclay brothers?

The owners of the European are known to be interested in acquiring newspapers. Bert Hardy, managing director of the brothers' company, European Press Holdings, tells me that he has indeed given Sunday Business the once-over: "We have been sent details by the receivers and we are examining those details," Mr Hardy said yesterday.

He says he doubts he is any further forward in deciding whether to buy the paper than any of the other groups sent the details by receiver David Sapte, of City accountants Begbies.

There is one reason to doubt a sale is imminent. Last Friday Mr Sapte embarked on a three-week holiday abroad. Or is he happy negotiating by mobile from the beach?

Perhaps its all this humidity - BZW is hiring as if the heat has gone to its head. It has appointed Chris Gate as new head of European Proprietary Trading within the global equities division. Mr Gates, 33, joins from Bankers Trust where he was head of UK Arbitrage Trading.

Barclays' investment bank has also poached three analysts, Nick Ward from NatWest Securities, Keith Wilson from Sun Alliance Investment, and Susan Scott from Credit Lyonnais Securities. Mr Ward will cover transport, Mr Watson electronics and Ms Scott oils.