People and Business: Peacekeeper at C&W calls it a day

Francesco Guerrera
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:05

TIME TO hang up for Rod Olsen, one of the last surviving members of Cable & Wireless's old guard. The New Zealand-born executive is to leave the telecom giant next March after 22 years. Mr Olsen burst into the limelight in 1995 when he was asked to pick up the pieces after a bloody civil war at C&W.

With chairman Lord Young and chief executive James Ross ousted in a bitter boardroom row, the amiable Kiwi held the fort as acting chief executive for six months, the first non-British national to head the phone group. When the ebullient Dick Brown was appointed chief executive in mid-1996, Mr Olsen became deputy, before moving to head C&W's Asian operations.

The company insisted that Mr Olsen was "retiring" and would not get a payoff. The man himself was somewhere in Australia, where his C&W mobile phone did not work, but the City wisdom is that, at 52, Mr Olsen is unlikely to sit back and enjoy the fruits of C&W's pension scheme.

Friends said that Mr Olsen, a keen walker, would indulge in his favourite pastime while waiting for a senior telecom appointment somewhere else.

I wonder whether Mr Brown could tempt him back with the offer of a starring role in a new advertising campaign headlined "Cable & Wireless: it's good to walk".

PRET A MANGER beware. Niall MacArthur, a former investment banker and hedge fund guru, is out to get you.

Mr MacArthur, a Bankers Trust high-flyer for 13 years, yesterday raised pounds 2.5m from venture capitalists 3i to beef up his EAT chain of sandwich shops. The MBA laureate wants to beat the "faux" French market leader at its own game of fresh food and varied menus. He has already opened four EAT (an acronym for Excellence And Taste) shops in the City and West End and wants to add another 26 by 2001.

More worryingly, he believes that BLTs will net him more than hedging derivatives' risk because, "the era of the long lunch is over" and most of his former colleagues are forced to munch a meagre roasted tomato in pesto salad on granary while chained at their desks.

A sobering thought for all the whizkids who are thinking of joining the City because of its fabled three-hour lunches. Expect a slump in job applications to merchant banks.

HEADHUNTERS HAVE a reputation for being a stuffy sort. Not Stephen Bampfylde, managing director of City poachers Saxton Bampfylde Hever. The resourceful Mr Bampfylde has decided to replace Christmas cards with an elegant brochure thanking America for making the business world a better place. "Thank You America" is to reach all SBH's clients by Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. According to SBH, the US should be thanked for giving the world Hollywood, Wall Street bankers, high-powered women and, you guessed it, headhunting.

So how many sons of that gifted and generous country work for Mr Bampfylde? "Three or four out of 40," says a spokeswoman with a we-don't-practice- what-we-preach sigh.

TIM HOLT, the Office of National Statistics director, is to get much- needed help. Mr Holt has been under fire since his agency made a mess of the average earnings figures - the Bank of England's favourite economic indicator. The ONS managed to revise the figure twice in a month, triggering a couple of inquiries and forcing the Government's number-crunchers to halt publication of the data.

To help sort out this fiasco, Mr Holt has appointed Gwen Batchelor, finance director of Abbey National's treasury division, to its policy board. Her brief includes advising Mr Holt on "strategic thinking and external accountability"and ensuring the ONS works efficiently and effectively. If recent form is anything to go by, it will be a hell of a job.

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