Business Diary: October 26

A job that is just that little bit different

THINK you're having a hard day at the office?

If you listen to Chris Hunter, you may just change your mind.

The bomb-disposal expert, who has served in Iraq, gave a compelling account of life on the front line when he spoke at a dinner to mark the 150th anniversary of the Huddersfield-based engineering

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Roadside bombs have accounted for about 75 per cent of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, which means Mr Hunter has been in demand in recent years.

Apart from defusing devices in Iraq, Mr Hunter and his team had to deal with blistering heat, rocket attacks and giant camel spiders.

At one point, he had to tackle 45 "tasks" in two months and was so successful that the insurgents put a price on his head.

Mr Hunter, who now works as a security consultant, told the audience at the Cedar Court Hotel, in Huddersfield, that he "never lost sight of what was important – getting back to my family".

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One member of the audience asked him if he ever felt scared in civilian life.

Mr Hunter said he feared "the same everyday things we're all scared of –not meeting the mortgage payments, keeping a roof over our heads".

Despite the heavy death toll among bomb-disposal teams – five of his friends have been killed in the last 18 months – Mr Hunter likes to focus on the lives he's saved.

He said: "I wouldn't change a thing. It's like a calling, a vocation. People stay because of the immense sense of gratification and the other side is the adrenalin rush."

Touch down

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A PROFESSIONAL rugby club's Hall of Fame is not the usual place

to find a Yorkshire property developer, but Matt Greenwood has found his way on to the list at London Wasps.

Mr Greenwood, projects manager at Barnsley-based Quest Property, was nominated this year for one of only five annual places on the list, which honours retired players.

Mr Greenwood, who made 91 senior Wasps appearances during his time with the club in 1992-1997, said: "It was a challenging, albeit exciting time for me juggling my rugby career at the same as undertaking my quantity surveying qualifications and working in London."

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He added: "To be awarded an honour at any time is always good, but to receive one that has been voted for by your peers is absolutely fantastic especially when you consider the great players that have played for the club over the years."

Peace worries

THE relationship between the United States and China is like a marriage between mismatched people, according to the financial historian, Niall Ferguson.

Speaking during a recent visit to Ilkley, the Harvard professor said: "A lot of people are looking at the Chinese-American relationship and wondering if that is going to sour. I think that's likely.

"It was always an uneasy marriage. It's like one of those marriages where one partner spends a lot and the other partner saves a lot. Those marriages have a certain tendency not to last."

He is more worried about the Middle East, though.

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"The probability of conflict in that region is much higher than is generally realised. I would be far more surprised if peace prevailed in the Middle East for the next 10 years than if war broke out, particularly if there was some kind of conflict between Israel and Iran.

"There are three things that are good predictors of conflict: ethnic disintegration, empires in decline and economic volatility. There are all three in the Middle East today."

Waxing lyrical

STAYING with the theme of marriage, the Governor of the Bank of England can always be relied upon to come up with a good metaphor.

Mervyn King, delivering the second Bagehot lecture in New York last night, said: "The words 'banking' and 'crisis' are natural bedfellows. If love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, then banking and crisis go together like Oxford and the Isis, intertwined for as long as anyone can remember."

Was there ever a more lyrical central banker?

Buying wisely

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INEOS chief executive Jim Ratcliffe insists he had no "great plan" when he built the company into the chemicals giant it is today.

"If someone had said you would be the size you are 10 years ago I would probably have asked what you were smoking."

Dr Ratcliffe told an audience of business leaders at the CBI conference in London that he grew the $40bn company by careful, quality acquisitions.

"In general we tried to buy used Mercedes, not used Rovers," he said.