Time for Tesco to be on the receiving end

People & Business
A large number of leading receivers are breathing a collective sigh of relief now Derek Sach has been named head of Royal Bank of Scotland's joint venture with Tesco, Tesco Personal Finance.

It was Mr Sach who introduced a draconian system to RBS in 1992 when he set up specialised lending services as a stand-alone department to help troubled companies. Mr Sach, a former 3i man, attacked two of the receivers' most sacred cows.

First, he made them tender for receiverships, in contrast to the other high street banks, which handed out receivership appointments to selected firms. Critics within the insolvency profession claimed this led to "low- balling", where firms which were keenest for the work would quote ruinously low fees.

Second, Mr Sach abolished the practice of allowing insolvency specialists who had been nursing sick companies to be appointed as receivers once the companies had gone bust. This annoyed the rest of the profession, who maintain that the incumbent specialist is best placed to handle a receivership.

None of which bothers Mr Sach. His policies were a rip-roaring success both for RBS and its shareholders. As a spokesman pointed out yesterday, "The success of his innovative company rescue philosophy can be measured by the fact that RBS appointed 418 receivers in 1992 and only 57 in 1995."

Or as one receiver said yesterday through gritted teeth: "He's an extremely accomplished banker who has done an extremely good job for the image of his bank."

Greig Middleton healthcare sector analyst wins Durex limerick competition shock. I reported recently that London International Group (LIG), maker of Durex condoms among other brands, was holding a limerick competition to launch its corporate web site. Competitors had to mention at least two LIG products. I can exclusively reveal the winner is Julia Dickson of Greig. Her winning rhyme goes like this:

"There was a young dentist called Lee

Who had run out of Biogel D

He wore ten Avantis

He'd pinched from his auntie's.

At least they were still latex-free!"

I should explain that Biogel D is a type of surgical glove, while Avantis are condoms made from a "technologically advanced polyurethane material that is thinner and more sensitive than latex".

Company announcements have changed irrevocably now that so many football clubs have floated. This week Charlton Athletic felt it had to proclaim to the market that it has "secured on a long-term contract the club's exciting England under-18 striker, Kevin Lisbie". Would this exciting news ignite the share price? After all, it has lagged a bit since Charlton floated last month at 80p, only to fall to the mid-50s.

Nick Batram, soccer share analyst at Greig Middleton, says: "I'm a football fan and I've never heard of Kevin Lisbie. On the other hand, if he develops into the next Alan Shearer, that would be a good thing."

Mr Batram claims he can provide unbiased advice: "I'm an Oxford United fan. Most other analysts support Arsenal or Manchester United."

Despite being a born and bred "Os" fan, Mr Batram concedes it is highly unlikely Oxford will trouble the stock market in the foreseeable future. Charlton's share price fell 2p to 62.5p yesterday. Keep practising, Kevin.

Employees at ING Barings in London are holding their breath pending an announcement by chairman Aad Jacobs on Thursday over a radical corporate shake-up.

Yesterday a bank spokesman confirmed the Dutch bank's international arm was to be merged with Barings, the merchant bank bought for a pound two years ago following the Leeson debacle.

Barings survivors are keeping their fingers crossed that the newly merged global unit will be called ING Barings. The bank has titled the revamp "Blueprint" and set up a steering committee, whose lucky members will be named on Thursday.

There had been fears that the 400-year-old Barings name might sink beneath the waves in this latest reshuffle, but a spokesman yesterday said ING Barings would be "a logical name".

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