The hawk with a sense of history

People and Business

SIR ALAN BUDD, distinguished economist and hawkish member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, has time to review history books as well as defeat inflation.

Sir Alan, who lives in the posher end of Kentish Town, London, is a keen reviewer for the Hampstead and Highgate Express, or Ham and High, as it is known.

Last Friday he gave a qualified thumbs up to a biography of Clive of India, Clive, by Robert Harvey (Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 20).

Sir Alan writes of the 18th-century adventurer: "Should we feel proud or ashamed of the man who in effect founded Britain's Indian Empire, who fought and won some extraordinary battles, often against overwhelming odds, who gained a vast personal fortune from these victories, who was prepared to do deals with villains and who ended his life reviled and condemned but who sought to control the excesses of economic colonialism and can be seen as laying the foundations of impartial colonial administration?"

No doubt Sir Alan, whose reviewing proclivities are well known within Threadneedle Street, will be concentrating solely on the job in hand when the MPC meets today and tomorrow to ponder interest rates.

STILL AT the Bank, all our best wishes go to the Secretary of the Bank, Peter Rodgers, a former financial editor of this very organ, who is back at work just a fortnight after breaking his arm in two places.

Cap'n Rodgers, a keen sailor, ducked just too late when his son and a couple of friends "jibbed" while sailing off the south coast. Coming up from below, Mr Rodgers was whacked by the mainsail, and had to be taken to Torquay Hospital to be patched up.

He is now back at work sporting a gleaming white plaster and sling. Apparently no-one has been allowed to sign the plaster. All due to some arcane Bank policy, no doubt.

A FORMER Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Robin Leigh Pemberton, now Lord Kingdsown, has a younger brother, Jeremy Leigh Pemberton, who yesterday completed a nine-year term as chairman of Mid Kent Holdings, the owner of Mid Kent Water.

Leigh Pemberton Junior led a successful management defence of the water utility against a hostile bid by General Utilities and SAUR launched in December 1996, a battle which dragged on until last year. He is succeeded as chairman of Mid Kent Water by Robert Leigh, chairman of Eurodis Electron, a supplier of electronic and computer components.

The Leigh Pembertons are big in Kent. Lord Kingsdown's son farms (like his father) at Worms Hill, near Faversham, Kent. About six months ago he had an entire new orchard stolen by "fruit rustlers". Jeremy Leigh Pemberton plans to continue with his many business and public interests in the county.

UNDER THE headline "Licensed to Speak", a press release has landed on my desk which declares that "Dame Stella Rimington, former director general of the Security Service MI5, has agreed to be the guest speaker at the Surrey Business Awards Gala Dinner" on 12 November.

I'm sure the computer salesmen of Reigate and marketing executives of Virginia Water could do with a few tips on covert operations and assassination techniques.

Sadly a spokesman for the Surrey Training & Enterprise Council (TEC), which is organising the awards, says Dame Stella's skills in managing 2,000 staff at MI5 and "managing change at the agency" will be the main talking points.

"Surrey was a dormitory county until fairly recently. Now we have to learn how to deal with businesses which are growing up here," says the TEC spokesman.

I hope she keeps awake.

GREG McMAHON is leaving the Manchester office of Garretts, the law firm associated with accountancy giant Arthur Andersen, to become company secretary and head of legal services at Airtours.

A good career move for Mr McMahon, no doubt, but his defection must be worrying to Garretts, coming as it does just months after Andersen's aborted merger with another law firm, Wilde Sapte. Mixing accountancy and law firms is proving a lot more difficult than the pundits forecast.

THE GOVERNMENT is proposing a new type of open-ended unauthorised fund to be sold to institutions by financial intermediaries - called "Puncs".

This stands for Pooled Unauthorised Companies, and has nothing to do with the Sex Pistols or pogoing, I am assured. The Treasury has floated the idea of Puncs as part of a consultation on the planned Financial Services and Markets Bill. Apparently a Punc is "like an unauthorised Oeic" (Open- Ended Investment Company). It all sounds thoroughly unpleasant.

Speaking of daft acronyms, most of you probably think Opra is the name of an American chat show hostess. In fact it's the moniker for the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority.

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