Accentuating the positive at the Pru

CITY DIARY
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The Independent Online
Newspapers are often accused of only being interested in negative stories. How nice, then, to record that the Prudential received glowing praise from the press in the final quarter of 1995.

British Gas, unsurprisingly, received a real hammering. According to the latest Presswatch Quarterly, which counts up how many positive and negative reports on companies appear in the national press, The Pru finished top with a rating of 738. Asda closed the quarter in second position with 668. Others in the top five were Rover with 665, Fiat with 655 and National Savings with 607.

The companies which came bottom make up a PR nightmare: Out of the 1135 companies surveyed British Gas came bottom with -2077. British Rail scored -1977, Trafalgar House -1287, Cable & Wireless -965 and BT-763, Bob Hoskins notwithstanding. Alcohol and tobacco companies did better than utilities while for some strange reason, accountancy firms got an average -62. Do we really hate the bean counters so much?

You've been sacked, You thirst for revenge. Maxim magazine has come up with a number of tips for what to do when you're given 20 minutes to clear your desk:

Grab some letterheads and launch a negative PR campaign by sending out crazed rubbish to clients ("Please be warned that the ToastiGlow toilet seat warmer you have just purchased may be liable to explosions.") or to the local press ("Toastiglow Boss in Sex Romp with Underage Nun and Halibut Shock!)

Now that photocopier repair men are well dressed, no one will challenge you and a couple of your mates as you carry the office Minolta away. This also works with fax machines.

The magazine also suggests poaching the secretary. "They've taken your job, you take their women." Another tip: distribute other members of staff's business cards while drunk and disorderly at parties.

David Wellings has decided to retire as chief executive of Cadbury Schweppes at the comparatively tender age of 55, after a three-year stint in the hot seat.

Part of the reason for his early departure may be that he is to spend six months of each year in Majorca.

Yesterday Mr Wellings told journalists at the company's annual results press conference that he wanted to write "the best book on ornothology in Majorca ever written".

When not bird watching, Mr Wellings will spend time looking after his remaining non-executive directorship at Signet, but there will be no more entrepreneurial projects.

This is a real retirement, he stressed. "I love it there (in Majorca) and I want to see more of my wife."

Its good to know that there is still a corner of England where bowler hats are worn and upper lips are stiff. The British Bloodstock Agency yesterday announced the appointment of Major General Guy Hansard Watkins as a non-executive director. Born in India, and educated at The King's School, Canterbury, he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1953. An amateur jockey in Hong Kong, he joined the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club when he retired from the army. The agency's activities include purchasing, shipping, stallion management and bloodlines. Make mine a gin and tonic, old boy.

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