A special anniversary

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Familiar faces for so many years

Three old pals held their party of the century last at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sir Win Bischoff, David Challen and Robert Swannell celebrated 100 years of working together, first at Schroders and now, after the investment bank lost its independence in 2000, at Citigroup.

Bischoff, now chairman of Citigroup Europe, was first to join Schroders, in 1966. Challen came along in 1972, Swannell five years later.

The three have advised on many watershed takeover bids; Challen helped Pilkington to defeat BTR’s hostile takeover in 1986-87, while Swannell, now vice-chairman of Citigroup Europe, was at the glassmaker’s side when it accepted a bid from Nippon Sheet Glass two decades later.

Challen, vice-chairman of Citigroup’s investment bank, was also instrumental at Schroders in advising the government on privatisation of the water industry.

Bischoff, doyen of the trio, also told guests that their working together was not the only century the three had notched up.

The length of their marriages also currently added up to 100 years.

Radio daze

Karren Brady, managing director of Birmingham City FC, has resisted the charms of GCap Media’s Ralph Bernard and has decided not to move to London to run Capital Radio.

But the radio group now has its sights on another smasher of glass ceilings – Fru Hazlitt. Mudlark hears that the former chief executive of Virgin Radio is set to sign on the dotted line, in spite of qualms expressed by friends.

On top of running GCap’s London operations including Capital Radio, the digital operations and advertiser relationships, she is said to have been offered a place on the board, reporting to Bernard.

Milkman’s mix

Fraud charges against Jon Asgeir Johannesson, Baugur’s chief executive, and other executives of the Icelandic retail group that owns Hamleys, House of Fraser and Oasis were dismissed in 2005 and 2006.

The case is now in the country’s supreme court where the state prosecutor this week employed a homely turn of phrase to describe loans granted by the company to Baugur managers including Johannesson.

It was comparable, Sigurdur Tomas Magnusson said, to a worker in a cowshed taking one of the cows to his own cowshed and milking it there for his own use.

Fashion victim

Perhaps Debenhams might perform more competitively in a retail market so dependent on women’s fashion if its board of directors included at least one woman.

Some more equal

Transport for London provided an admirably full and timely answer to a query about the periodic closure of one exit at London Bridge tube station.

Citing predictable factors of “health and safety” and winter absenteeism, TfL went on to assure that “it is not that the Borough High St exit has a low priority, just that it is not as high as the main exit”.

Track changes

Mudlark has been seeing more of the tube since this month’s rail fare rises.

A 38 per cent increase in an off-peak fare – “cheap day return” has been consigned to the oxymoron dictionary – must be a record in relative terms.

It is even hard to remember a nominal rise that high in the days of 25 per cent inflation.

So Mudlark, clutching Oystercard, now uses bus and tube, and journey times are comparable with – and more predictable than – the direct overground route.

Was driving passengers off the trains the intention of Southeastern, the railway operator in question?

Hit ‘carriage return’

Some commuters, though, are fighting back. Passengers on the Portsmouth line who are protesting against South West Trains’ switch to less comfortable carriages have set up a website to gather names – 300 have signed so far – for their petition. www.no450.co.uk

Bury convenient

Isn’t it likely that the announcement of the departure date for John Tiner, Financial Services Authority chief executive, would have received more prominence in the newspapers had it not coincided with the release of Britain’s highest inflation figures for 10 years?

The FSA’s response to a question about a possible link in the timing? “Complete bollocks.”

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