John Manser, chief executive of Robert Fleming, the British investment bank which owns 50 per cent of Jardine Fleming, has been pencilled in as the next chairman of the bank. Senior sources say Mr Manser is to be chosen as the bank's heir apparent despite recent scandals which have plunged JF's Hong Kong-based fund management arm into disrepute. Chairman Robin Fleming, whose family owns 35 per cent of the bank, is understood to have given no firm indication as to his retirement date and any decision will have to be ratified by the Robert Fleming board. Mr Manser has admitted there is no 'outstanding reason' why he should not become chairman. Mr Fleming is 63 while Mr Manser is 56. This weekend at a meeting of executives from around the world, the group is due to hold a long-planned review of its operations and develop an outline strategy to take it to 2002. The meeting will include an analysis of which products the bank should specialise in and in which geographical locations it sees the most growth. It is understood that the bank will conduct a review of all its operations, including securities, asset management, banking and investment banking. Mr Manser's possible promotion to chairman comes against the background of an extensive investigation into Jardine Fleming which resulted in its asset management arm and associated companies being hit with the third-largest fine ever delivered by Britain's Investment Management Regulatory Organisation. The group has sought to contain damage to its reputation and business and stem the tide of institutions which have withdrawn asset management mandates from the company or which are reviewing their relationship with the firm. While about US$3 billion of JF's $21 billion under management has been regarded as vulnerable, there has been fund inflows worth up to $1 billion from Japanese investors recently. The group has just won a mandate to co-lead, with its 50 per cent owned Australian investment bank Ord Minett, the $250 million privatisation of Orogen, the world's 10th-largest mining resources company. It is being spun off by Mineral Resources Development Corporation, Papua New Guinea's state mining company.