City People

BILL GATES is not going to give away his entire $90bn wealth to charity after all.

The Microsoft boss and his wife Melinda Gates felt compelled yesterday to deny press reports over the weekend that they were giving "the entirety of their wealth" to charity.

The couple have endowed two foundations with $11.3bn to support global health and learning, and that's quite enough for the moment, thank you very much.

Mr Gates, chairman and chief executive of the world's biggest software maker, and his wife have "expressed a desire to return the majority of their wealth back to society", said spokesman Trevor Neilson. But that is "a lifelong endeavour and is not something that is going to happen immediately".

He added that reports that they were planning to give the lot away caused "massive amounts of confusion". If they want to give any of the lolly to me, however, I can only say - feel free.

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LONDON ECONOMICS celebrates the return of its co-founder Professor John Kay from the helm of the hapless Said Business School at Oxford by poaching two key players. The consultancy has signed up Nick Stern, chief economist at the EBRD, and Tony Ballance, chief economist of Ofwat.

The hirings are all part of Professor Kay's ambitious drive into Europe. He reckons continental governments and companies are juicy potential clients for London Economics' expertise on privatisation and deregulation. The eastern European privatisation scene in particular has been a preserve of the big accountancy firms, for instance.

Baroness Hogg, the previous head of London Economics, didn't agree with this strategy and left recently after Professor Kay brought in French partners - the forecasting group Stratorg and its consulting arm BIPE - to bankroll the continental invasion. The Baroness now sips tea in the Lords.

Nick Stern, who has been made chairman of London Economics, has advised the IMF and the World Bank, and of course had to be a terrible Europhile to work for the EBRD, of gold taps and Jacques Attali fame. Professor Stern will be full-time chairman until he adds a half-time Chair in Economics at the London School of Economics.

The Prof also joined the advisory board of IDEAglobal.com yesterday to give the web consultancy a weekly round-up on global economics. How he finds the time, goodness knows.

Back at London Economics, other recent signings include Glyn Charlesworth as director of European Energy. He was previously at British Gas, PowerGen and British Oxygen, and recently was adviser to Stephen Littlechild, director general of Electricity Supply.

Mike Walker has also come on board as director of the Competition Team. He was previously with OXERA, another consultancy, and British Telecom. He has just co-written The Economics of European Competition Law which will be published in September. Can't wait.

More hirings are in the pipeline, so get your CVs in now.

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BT CELLNET has launched a pounds 150,000 campaign to get mobile phone users to be more considerate about switching off their phones, particularly in the middle of films and plays. The "Switch It" campaign is aimed at people who are "mobile megaphones," says BT.

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SIR DOMINIC CADBURY, chairman of Cadbury-Schweppes, has written to me saying: "It was generous of you to award me a rowing Blue in your column on 29 July, but to avoid this unearned distinction being repeated, I should point the inaccuracy out."

The article concerned Sir Dominic bravely hobbling to the firm's half- year results press conference last week, following an operation to replace a kneecap. I observed that this followed a lifetime's energetic exercise, and Sir Dominic acknowledges that he was indeed a squash Blue at Cambridge - and that his brother Adrian was a rowing Blue.

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