The City Diary

How a tight-fisted Yorkshireman spends his loose change
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The Independent Online

Peter Wilkinson, who said last week that he planned to take data services company InTechnology off AIM as a result of the junior market's "undervaluing' of the business, has other things on his mind back home on the North York moors. Freeserve creator Wilkinson – technology entrepreneur, football fanatic and self-proclaimed tight-fisted Yorkshireman – has bought his second pub, the Royal Oak in Gillamoor, close to his home in Sleightholmedale, near Kirkbymoorside. Wilkinson – now worth an estimated £300m – bought his first moorland pub, the Plough Inn in Fadmoor, reputedly after his underage daughter was refused service. The internet pioneer – who is charging £8.95 for Cumberland sausage and mash at the Royal Oak – clearly has the Midas touch.

Racing for the exit

Just who does Lewis Hamilton think he is kidding? The rookie F1 superstar said he's moving to Switzerland so he can lead a normal life and not get mobbed every time he walks down the high street. Call us cynical, but could his choice of new home have anything to do with Switzerland's tax-haven status? Our man in the pit lane says the move will save Hamilton about $40m in taxes next year. Hamilton's father worked every hour of the day to fund his son's early career in karting. It looks like all that hard work has paid off.

'And here's the kitchen...'

Still on a sporting theme, it has come to our attention that a top-flight football player with a reputation for being ever-so-slightly boring, is bringing out an autobiography. The star (we will spare his blushes and not name him), who plays for one of England's largest clubs, had wanted to include a plan of his new house in his book as he thought readers would be greatly interested in the layout of his pad. His publisher had to tell him gently that architectural drawings did not belong in a book about football.

Tackled by the regulator

Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, has not had a great relationship with the City since his company's flotation in February. And now the Takeover Panel could be about to knock on his door. The panel is believed to want assurances that Sports Direct and fellow retailer JJB Sports are not acting as a concert party in Umbro, which is the subject of a takeover bid from Nike. The whisper is that the US group would be grateful if the panel clarified the positions of JJB and Sports Direct, which between them hold 39 per cent in Umbro. Ashley and JJB boss Chris Ronnie have known each other for years – not that one would wish to imply they were cooking anything up.

Great sport for Merrill

Staying with Umbro, Merrill Lynch hit the headlines last week for paying Stan O'Neal, its chief executive, a $161m exit package. On this side of the Atlantic, the US bank is not only advising Nike on its bid for Umbro, but is also the adviser to Sports Direct. The bank must have more Chinese walls than the Forbidden Palace.

Put those fears to bed

Another week, another pointless survey. Legal & General reveals that more women than men check the front door is locked before nodding off. The point, we discover, is that good house insurance might mean one less thing to worry about at bedtime. Next week: eight out of 10 home owners take an umbrella when it rains.