Amsterdam, home of windmills and gerberas

People & Business

Here's a marketing wheeze that will appeal to horticulturalists everywhere. Invest On-line, the phone-based investment operation launched last year by Royal Sun Alliance, has named all its five products after flowers.

Thus we have Lotus, Carnation, Azalea, Rose and Daisy. Now the company is launching the Gerbera PEP. Gerberas, for the uninitiated, look like large orange daisies.

It was a toss-up between gerberas and tulips, says an On-line spokesman, but the tulip chosen for the photo shoot looked like a boiled egg on a stick.

Judith Marsh, head of the company, had to fly to Amsterdam for the shoot because they couldn't find enough gerberas in one place over here, I'm told. What japes.

Stuart Wallis, chief executive of Fisons until its acquisition by Rhone- Poulenc Rorer 18 months ago, has been appointed chairman of Euramax International, the aluminium and steel coil maker. Mr Wallis was poached from Bowater to run Fisons and when he succeeded he made his name. He also has a finger in several other pies as chairman of Scholl, Yorkshire Chemicals, Sheffield Forgemasters and LLP.

Good to hear that Terry Venables, whose abilities as manager of the England football team are sadly unmatched by his business acumen, has done a deal. Hay & Robertson, which has made a fortune making replica footie kits for the soccer-loving masses, has signed up the coach to the Australian side for a six-and-a-half-year contract to develop a "premium range of products" in conjunction with the Admiral brand.

The El Tel brand will hit the stores this autumn. Who knows, you could soon be wearing Hay & Robertson's El Tel pyjamas and boxer shorts. A chilling thought.

The City is Eurosceptic - it's official. In the annual City Debate at Mansion House on Monday, hosted by the Futures and Options Association, around 250 members of the City voted heavily against EMU. In fact there were three motions, the first being: "This House believes there is a powerful economic and business case underpinning the political momentum towards economic and monetary union."

Despite powerful Europhile speeches from Peter Sutherland, chairman of Goldman Sachs and a former European Commissioner, and Jan Timmer, president of Philips Electronics, 58 per cent of those present voted against the motion. Only 38 per cent agreed while 4 per cent didn't know.

But the Eurosceptic speakers, Tim Melville Ross, director general of the Institute of Directors, and Anatole Kaletsky, economic editor of The Times, didn't have it all their own way.

The second motion was: "Do you think the UK will ever join a single currency?" This time 65 per cent voted yes and 32 per cent no.

Most worrying for fans of Europe, however, was the last motion: "If we don't join a single currency and we are penalised by the EU for not doing so, would you be in favour of leaving the EU?"

Fully 48 per cent said yes, 41 per cent said no with 11 per cent don't knows.

Perhaps we could link up with the Cayman Islands.

The spirit of the intrepid British explorer is not dead. Former Warburg spokesman Richard Holloway, now with the Maitland Consultancy, had rather a more dramatic visit to Milan last weekend than he bargained for.

He was flown in on Sunday to help give a gloss to Olivetti's announcement that it was selling its computer operations.

However, on his arrival Mr Holloway was told that the airport was surrounded by striking farmers. Undeterred, our hero walked one-and-a-half miles down a deserted motorway through blockades in the rain. "There was quite a party atmosphere," he says.

Thank you to David Wallace of Portfolio & Pension Management, East Kilbride, who writes to me with a list of fund managers for Henderson Investors: these include James Bond and a Mr A Crooke. "Are these appropriate names for fund managers?" asks Mr Wallace. I leave you, dear reader, to judge.

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