City Diary

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The Independent Online

The announcement of the merger between Dasa, the aerospace division of DaimlerChrysler, with France's Aerospatiale Matra was an important story for Britain's leading aerospace journalists yesterday. So much so that the German and French companies had hired an aircraft specially to fly the journos to the Continent from London's City Airport for the press conference.

The announcement of the merger between Dasa, the aerospace division of DaimlerChrysler, with France's Aerospatiale Matra was an important story for Britain's leading aerospace journalists yesterday. So much so that the German and French companies had hired an aircraft specially to fly the journos to the Continent from London's City Airport for the press conference.

Sadly, the Avro RJ 85 aircraft, chartered from Sabena, broke down. The trip had to be scrapped. And the maker of the recalcitrant Avro? British Aerospace.

Obviously the plane instinctively knew that the merger was bad news for its maker, what with BAe's shares off 3 per cent after the announcement ...

Bob Ayling , the chief executive of British Airways, is heading a new foundation composed of top businessmen to raise money for the Royal College of Art (RCA). The postgraduate institution wants to build an extension to its overcrowded premises in Hyde Park.

Apart from his dedication to art and design, Mr Ayling has an extra reason to raise money for the RCA. His wife, Julia Crannan , graduated in textiles from the College in 1970. Incidentally, that was the same year that James Dyson , inventor of the eponymous vacuum cleaner and a fellow foundation trustee with Mr Ayling, himself graduated from the College in Interior Design.

The other money-raisers include Andrew Brownsword , who built and sold the Hallmark greeting card empire and now owns Bath Rugby Club, and Martin Sorrell, chairman of WPP Group.

Dunkin' Donuts is a (fairly) familiar franchise and could be the reason why Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (14 October, p18) calls the "Direktor at Lobbygruppe British Invisibles" Dunkin McKenzie.

Still, Duncan McKenzie got off lightly compared with ex-Cabinet enforcer Jack Cunningham , referred to a few times in the Belgian papers this week as "Kack".

British Telecom came to the rescue of the world's richest man, Bill Gates , yesterday. We received a photo of Mr Gates and Peter Bonfield , BT's chief executive, which putatively showed the great man announcing the joint deal with BT on providing Internet services to mobile phones.

The strange thing was that Mr Gates was wearing identical clothes to those he appeared in the day before. Does the world's richest man really only have one suit and tie?

BT were quick to correct this rather disturbing view, by confessing that the new pic was in fact a day old. Mr Gates had left to spread his gospel in Germany.

Trawling for new business is being given a whole new meaning this week by Andrew Pindar , whose Yorkshire-based company spans printing, property development and running an Internet provider.

Mr Pindar has sailed the company yacht into the heartland of the maritime militants of Le Havre. The yacht is no flashy gin palace, however, but a converted 350-ton trawler built in Lowestoft, retired from cod war fishing and North Sea oil support duties. It now sports a kitchen for entertaining and a bar featuring Tetley's bitter on draught.

The Pindar family company is a 163-year-old business based in Scarborough which Andrew runs with his brother George Thomas Pindar . The privately held company has seen turnover rise from about £2m to £70m in less than 10 years and the network of offices spread to Chicago.

Pindar's reason for jetting in clients is his £150,000 sponsorship of 24-year-old Emma Richards and Miranda Merron , 30, the former Cambridge University sailing captain and J Walter Thompson executive in Tokyo.

Tomorrow they will be on the start line of the Jacques Vabres two-handed race across the Atlantic to Cartagena in Colombia. The duo are using the same 50-foot racing yacht in which Pete Goss completed not only a singlehanded round the world race but earned membership of the Légion d'Honneur for rescuing fellow racer Raphael Dinelli .

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