Rawlins bullish about his return to the City

City Diary
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Peter Rawlins is back. For those who don't remember, he was the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange who was forced to resign three years ago when the Taurus automated share settlement system was scrapped at a cost to the City of pounds 400m.

But enough of that. Many thought him a scapegoat for an Exchange-wide failure. As Mr Rawlins says: "I'm history and it's history to me."

Now Mr Rawlins is returning from the US to become European head of Siegel & Gale, the corporate identity arm of Cordiant. Any lasting resentment City people feel may have been mitigated in the intervening years by the unpopular reign of his successor, Michael Lawrence, who was himself sacked last year.

Mr Rawlins will be overseeing Siegel & Gale's business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company specialises in rethinking how companies present themselves to the public - "the voice concept" - and is expanding into interactive and digital media.

So does Mr Rawlins have any regrets about the Exchange? "None at all. I'm very proud of what I did there." Spoken like a man. And who knows. The Exchange could do with an image makeover...

David Atkinson, head of research at NatWest Markets, has issued an edict banning his analysts from talking to the wire services.

Mr Atkinson was a food manufacturing analyst himself until three months ago, and thinks analysts waste valuable time talking to wire journalists: "When the analysts are trying to tell their clients whether to buy or sell, they keep getting phoned up by Reuters and Bloomberg asking "Why did this stock go up 2p? Why did that one go down 2p?"

"More worryingly, there have been one or two instances where our clients have seen our own recommendations on the wire services before we had a chance to talk to them [the clients], which looks a bit stupid," adds Mr Atkinson.

Print journalists such as myself may still ring up, he says, since papers appear the day after. "Wire services are here this minute, gone the next."

Still on NatWest Market, the investment bank is also expanding the role of Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the former Foreign Office high-flyer who caused such a stir earlier this year by defecting to the City.

Fellow Whitehall mandarins, who were sure Dame Pauline was headed for the top, assured her before she decamped that "You're going to be very bored by the City."

But as she takes on the role of head of global business strategy, as well as her current job spotting new business opportunities with Government clients, Dame Pauline is happy with her move to the Square Mile.

"I've been very struck by the amount of talent in the City, which is abundant and impressive. There is also a lot of informality and friendliness, which counts pretty highly." Very diplomatic.

Dame Pauline's contacts with overseas governments, have already paid off. "It helped us win the mandate from the Yugoslav government. NatWest Markets is advising them on rescheduling their debt and privatisations."

Glenda Jackson, shadow transport spokesperson and Oscar-winning actress, has been busy lambasted companies such as Hanson Trust which have benefited from rail privatisation at the same time making hansome donations to the Tory Party. Hanson, a partner in the group that bought Eversholt Leasing Company, gave pounds 100,000 in 1995/6. Ms Jackson says: "It's crystal clear why John Major is so reluctant to condemn the fat cats - the fattest cats of all are sitting in Conservative Central Office."

Can this really be the same Glenda Jackson who starred in a TV commercial for Hanson with American actor George Segal? "The company over here that's doing rather well over there." The fee, I imagine would be not unadjacent to what Hanson paid the Tories. Sounds like the cat is biting the hand that feeds it.

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