So farewell James Capel and Samuel Montagu?

CITY DIARY
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The Independent Online
The intractable problem of how to successfully brand the diverse business interests that are HSBC has finally been resolved. The bank is to unveil a new corporate image in January, putting an end to the years of confusion over James Capel, Samuel Montagu, Midland Bank et al.

Visitors to the HSBC dealing floor will bear witness to a different business logo on virtually every pillar. The bank has been trying to address the lack of focus for some time under the guidance of Bernard Asher, chairman of investment banking. However, progress has been slow. Compare the immediate disappearance of the Smith New Court name following the merger with Merrill Lynch.

The proposed solution is stunning in its simplicity. The bank intends to put the HSBC prefix in front of all its brand names in the hope that people will eventually forget about them and they can be dropped.

So come 1996 it will be HSBC James Capel and HSBC Samuel Montagu. The only name not destined to wither on the vine is Midland Bank. Remember, you read it here first.

Grim actuarial warnings take their toll on Bernard Taylor, chairman of Medeva, who announced yesterday that he is retiring. Mr Taylor intends to spend a lot of time relaxing in Australia after learning that those retiring earlier tend to live longer.

"There's a message there for us all," he declares, scoffing at the suggestion that he is departing for reasons more sinister. "Unless you think my wife's ministrations on this subject over a period of 35 years are sinister, then this is not sinister," he said, adding that he always intended to retire at 60.

Actuaries say if you retire at 60 "you will have a longer and better life than if you retire at 65". If you are in a stressful job and retire at 65 you are likely only to live to 72, but if you bow out at 60 you can expect another 18 years on average.

Why Australia? That's where his two sons and five grandchildren live.Two daughters also live abroad.

After much deliberation and fine wine the Dickens Pickwick Luncheon Club has decided not to dissolve itself - at least not yet. Readers of yesterday's diary will recall that Cedric Dickens, a descendant of the celebrated author, was keen to bring the curtain down on this venerable City forum because the club's venue - the top room at the George and Vulture - was too damp to lunch on.

But the final gathering - at the alternative venue of the Old Doctor Butler's Head - failed to vote itself into oblivion. Instead it was resolved to press Samuel Smith, the Tadcaster brewer that owns the ancient inn, to mend the roof and allow the club back in for another meeting in the spring where the matter of its dissolution will be discussed again. Over more wine.

"Back from the brink,'' Mr Dickens breathed.

The telephone rings. It is Peter Levine, chairman and chief executive of Canary Wharf, who takes exception to our story of the Jaguar Building Services man who was trapped in one of the windowless storage rooms in the central spine of Britain's tallest office block. The lack of inside door handles in some of these rooms is not an architectural oversight, he points out. Rather it is the tenants who are responsible for the fixtures and fittings. The gibbering cleaner was rescued after faint screams were were heard coming from the fabric of the building.

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