Market Whispers

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The Independent Online

*** Private equity is always moaning about its bad image. At an industry lunch last week, Nigel Doughty, the founder of Doughty Hanson, made it the subject of his speech. He implored his peers to improve private equity's PR by lifting the veil behind which it operates. Claiming that buyout firms could help fix the continental European economy, he warned: "We cannot make inroads in Europe if we are thought of as destructive pests." The industry needed, he added, to "change our attitudes and ... our behaviour". Apparently, those changes would best be made by others. After his speech, Mr Doughty declined an interview request, citing the firm's "house rule on no public profiles". Looks like the image of asset-stripping locusts, the description attached by a German politician to buyout groups, won't go away. But Mr Doughty did his bit to tweak the PR: he likened "club deals" - where several firms link up to bid for a larger target - to "a group of dogs chasing a bus".

*** Italian sausage was the downfall of Arthur Riel. That is the charge the former Morgan Stanley executive is making in his $30m (£17m) lawsuit against the bank. He said he was fired after he came across an X-rated email conversation between two female executives - discovered during a normal compliance check. In the emails, one woman made anatomical references to her boyfriend's "Italian sausage", while the other referred to her preference for Italian men, or as she called them, "Italian stallions". The embarrassing details came to light in New York court filings last week, where Mr Riel is suing for wrongful termination.

*** Yet more woe for Group 4 Securicor, or so it would appear. The group's US subsidiary, Wackenhut, has reportedly lost a contract thought to be worth more than $30m to guard the Department of Homeland Security's HQ. The Service Employees International Union, which has long lambasted what it claims is Wackenhut's poor performance for the department, may well feel vindicated. However, insiders at G4S point out that it still has a number of other contracts with Homeland Security.

*** What's the odd $5m? Without it ever being aired, Cadbury Schweppes has pulled a US advert for its best-selling Dr Pepper fizzy drink - but not, apparently, before spending something like that sum on the campaign. It is understood that when the finished product was shown to the group, it was decided, for one reason or another, that it just wasn't right - and the plug was pulled. The confectionery giant's advertising people are now working feverishly to get another campaign ready for the summer pop-drinking season.

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