Whelan joins the battle of the bulge bracket

City Diary

Martin Owen, chief executive of NatWest Markets, is delighted that he has managed to land Tom Whelan as chief executive of global equities, a new post. Mr Whelan left Morgan Stanley in New York just before Christmas to re-examine his career, having built Morgan's massively lucrative derivatives business. Mr Owen sees him as the ideal man to help NatWest Markets compete with the American "bulge bracket" investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch head-to-head. Now the 44-year-old American has moved to London to pull NatWest Markets' growing number of equities businesses around the world into a more coherent whole. "This is a fabulous man for us," enthuses Mr Owen. The chief executive accepts that the top Wall Street expertise Mr Whelan brings with him does not come cheap. "This is an important appointment for us and his remuneration would reflect that." Observers interpret this to mean something in the multi-million-dollar bracket. And to think, only four years ago Lord Alexander was considering shutting the thing.

A team of the UK's top receivers are flying out to Moscow this Sunday to teach the Russians how to put bust companies into liquidation. The handful of chaps from Ernst & Young and Coopers are under no illusion about the task that faces them. Concepts like liquidation, creditors and debtors, profits and losses simply did not exist under Communism. Stephen Adamson, the Ernst & Young partner who led the rescue of Canary Wharf, said the helter-skelter introduction of capitalism had produced some strange consequences. "Many areas in Russia have simply reverted to the bankruptcy laws of 1913, before Communism was introduced. The Russians are very keen to attract foreign investment by stripping old industries of their liabilities. We want to help give them a framework to do this." At least the Russians are keen to learn about insolvency, Mr Adamson adds. China, despite its rapid pace of industrialisation, or perhaps because of it, lacks any bankruptcy code at all.

Spotted in the lobby of the Treasury, a propaganda poster from 1953 which shows how little Britain's economic anxieties have really changed. The poster is headed: "The Budget and your pocket." It goes on: "Why must taxes be so high? Why is money so tight these days? When are things going to get better?" When indeed, Mr Clarke. Then there is a drawing of a pound symbol holding a shield, on which is written the slogan: "We must protect the value of the pound." That bit must have been added by one of Eddie George's predecessors. The poster also includes the fact that a dozen eggs in 1953 cost just three shillings (15p). No mention of inflation though - just like today.

Sunday Business, the newspaper launched by Tom Rubython two months ago, is reaching another defining moment. While the latest investor in the project, the Northern industrialist Gordon Brown, prepares a relaunch for next weekend along with television advertising, the staff continue to leave in droves. Around half a dozen have left over the last 10 days, and around half the production staff is seriously considering leaving en masse. Watch this space.

And film is fair: Fancy investing in a film and appearing in a bit part? The team that produced The Bruce urgently requires budding thesps to buy pounds 500-debentures for their latest venture, Macbeth. Cromwell Productions found investors like appearing on screen, albeit as a spear carrier. The Scottish play will be directed by Brian Blessed and star Oliver Reed, Hildegard Neil and Pavel Douglas. If you want to appear, along with a ticket to the premiere, a listing in the credits, a share in any net profit etc, you have until the end of June to apply. Altogether now, "is this a debenture I see before me?"

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