Who let the cat out of Spottiswoode's bag?

Business & People
Click to follow
The Independent Online
British Gas is crossing swords with the Ofgas tsarina Clare Spottiswoode. No change there. The latest outlet for gaseous chagrin, my Deep Throat informs me, is three letters sent by Philip Rogerson, deputy chairman of British Gas, to Ms Spottiswoode last Friday. In the letters, Mr Rogerson complains about her pricing proposals which threaten to slash his company's profits. Two of the letters have subsequently surfaced in a London evening newspaper.

The letters seek to persuade Ofgas that British Gas's huge restructuring and decontamination costs should be shared by customers as well as shareholders. Ms Spottiswoode is content to let the Sids shoulder the whole costs.

Deep Throat, or should that be Deep Bore, adds that the last time Ofgas commissioned the MMC to study gas prices in 1993, the MMC recommended that the pricing formula should take into account "an appropriate proportion of the net costs of the restructuring ..."

Over to Ms Spottiswoode.

Jim Buckley, chief executive of the Baltic Exchange, London's shipping market, is hopping mad over plans to build a 92-floor Millennium Tower on the Exchange's old site. Sir Norman Foster's design for Europe's tallest office block may have captured the imagination of some. But the Exchange is annoyed that the scheme appears to have the approval of the City Corporation and British Heritage, whereas both turned down the Exchange's proposals to demolish the old building and build anew.

"Restoring the Exchange would have bankrupted us. We decided to sell the site and move next door," says Mr Buckley. Then Trafalgar House, owned by Kvaerner, bought the old site. Now it appears the authorities may smile on the Millennium Tower, vastly increasing the value of the site. Mr Buckley says it is unlikely that the Exchange will sue anyone, but "if there's money swilling about, we'd like some of it".

So how much would he like? "As much as possible. The cost of restoring the Old Exchange would have been at least pounds 20m, so we could start there."

So has Mr Buckley spoken to Trafalgar about a pay-off? "I don't want to answer that question." It's an ill wind.

What's happened to Steve Barrow, chief economist at Chemical Bank, newly merged with Chase Manhattan? He was interviewed at the BBC on Tuesday morning, and when the producer wanted to check something with Mr Barrow in the afternoon he rang Mr Barrow's number at Chase. A young lady assured the bemused producer that "Mr Barrow doesn't work here any more".

"But we interviewed him this morning," he replied.

Yesterday Chase said Mr Barrow had "left by mutual consent. His departure was amicable. We don't know what he is doing next."

Sarah Hogg, the former head of the Downing Street policy unit, who became the Independent's first business editor in 1986, is becoming chairman of London Economics, the consultancy.

On Monday London Economics celebrated its 10th anniversary with a party at which Baroness Hogg introduced a speech by Ken Clarke. She said she had discovered the connection between her, John Kay, who is leaving the chairmanship of London Economics to run Oxford's business school, and the Chancellor.

In a gracious tribute to Mr Clarke's ebullient press secretary, Jill Rutter, Baroness Hogg pointed out that prior to her current job, Ms Rutter had worked with her at the Downing Street Policy Unit and had been taught by Mr Kay as a student at Oxford.