Work on the Wild Side

As they are each year, the dozens of British businesses honored with a 2001 Queen's Award for "outstanding achievement in international trade" are a mixed bag: exporters of heart valves, chemicals, aircraft-ejection seats, oilfield cranes, electronic gear, animal feed and such. Despite their diversity, each company's claim to the award — a finely etched glass bowl — is its success in selling its products overseas and thus contributing to the U.K.'s foreign-exchange coffers.

Among this year's winners is a small, London firm — Asset Security Managers — one of the biggest brokers in the booming kidnap-and-ransom industry...

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