Sun, sea and a strong pound. What more could an expat want?

People & Business

The strong pound has re-ignited the British love affair with Marbella on the Costa del Sol. This sunny hangout of such luminaries as Ronnie Knight, Sean Connery, Princess Di and King Fahd is also home to up to half a million Brits. More will be heading that way if the pound's resurgence continues.

Lovell, one of the few remaining British contractors and developers in the area, had a hard time of it during the recession - everyone got their fingers burnt in the Eighties.

Now Stephen Draper, a Spanish-based director of Lovell, says that within the last two months the price of a top villa in Marbella has fallen from pounds 465,000 to pounds 410,000, due entirely to the weakness of the peseta against sterling.

Lovell is still building - and selling - villas in the area, so if a City bonus is burning a hole in your pocket, give them a call.

A rumour is sweeping City parlours that Liffe is building "the biggest bog in Europe" at its Cannon Bridge offices, where 3,000 futures traders daily ply their trade.

A spokeswoman for Liffe confirms that it is indeed completing a large new "cloakroom".

"There are so many traders that we have had to dispense with locker facilities. The traders all arrive at once, so the cloakroom has to be quite big," she says.

Yes, but does it contain this huge new loo, as rumoured? "I don't know. I haven't been there - nor want to," replies the Liffe representative.

I never realised why the high street banks were so reluctant to stump up for the millennium exhibition when Michael Heseltine was twisting their arms for pounds 10m last year.

The banks at the time said they "couldn't see a commercial justification for it," which seemed a bit churlish since it's supposed to be a national celebration.

Now, according to a banking source, all becomes clear. Hezza proposed that they spend the money on a gigantic "gallery of banking." Hardly a crowd-puller.

Now Lord Alexander of NatWest, Sir Brian Pitman of Lloyds and the rest have agreed to donate around pounds 100,000 each to a comparatively modest "celebration of the City of London".

That seems more like it, although it still hardly sounds like a threat to Euro Disney.

Steven Joseph, chairman of Portfolio Foods, is fast turning into a serial entrepreneur. He bought eight businesses from Hazlewood in 1990 to form Portfolio with backing from NatWest Ventures, then sold most of the business to Cadbury Schweppes last year.

Now he has taken over as chairman of another NWV-backed company, Decorative Sleeves, a supplier of shrink and stretch sleeves in the packaging industry. NWV led the management buyout of Decorative Sleeves last September for pounds 13.7m.

Mr Joseph's new job will mean some commuting from his north London base with Portfolio to DS in East Anglia. He is also looking for other business opportunities with NWV.

Still only in his mid-40s, Mr Joseph has five children, but is worried about comparisons with that other serial parent, Nicola Horlick of Morgan Grenfell fame. He had to reassure a colleague recently that he wouldn't be charging off to Frankfurt.

Roy Hall, doyen of the nuclear generation industry, is finally retiring as chief executive of Magnox Electric after over 40 years in the electricity sector.

Magnox, formerly Nuclear Electric, is Britain's fifth largest electricity generator. Still wholly owned by the Government, it operates six Magnox- type nuclear stations producing around 8 per of electricity used in England and Wales. Dennis Joynson, executive director of liabilities and decommissioning, will effectively take over Mr Hall's job, under the new title of managing director, operations, from 1 October.

Dr Clive Smitton, executive director, generation, and Stephen Ogle, executive director, finance and commercial, will continue in their current roles.

Mr Hall started out as a trainee engineer in the electricity engineer in 1956, and had spells as station manager of Trawsfynydd and Hinkley Point. A big part of Magnox's job at the moment is to decommission ageing nuclear generators. Mr Hall has used this expertise as chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators Paris Centre, a body created following the Chernobyl disaster, to improve safety standards world-wide.

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