The City Diary

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Greed is good, Gordon – even if you can't do your feasting at home

Investment bankers, particularly back- and middle-office staff, have long been aware of the threat to their jobs from outsourcing as new financial industries spring up in the developing world.

Now it appears that certain European and American investment bankers are being forced make a choice between relocating from traditional financial centres like London and New York to their companies' regional offices in emerging markets – or losing their jobs.

Naturally, a wag with something of a gallows sense of humour has come up with a suitable catchphrase for this phenomenon: "Shanghai, Mumbai, Dubai or goodbye."

With 'Wall Street 2' due out soon, Perhaps 'Wall Street 3' will see Gordon Gekko working out of Manila ...

Diageo should have sobered up

Despite worries about recession, drinks giant Diageo – which sells such well-known brands as Guinness – produced stout half-year results last week. Its boss, Paul Walsh, believes consumers are more likely to forgo car purchases and fancy holidays than their favourite tipple. But it is unfortunate that the day after the Association of Chief Police Officers condemned the drinks industry for targeting teenagers with cheap alcohol, Mr Walsh called his firm's products "an affordable indulgence".

The perfect match...

After last week's derby loss to City, Manchester United could probably have done without the news that its major sponsor, the American insurer AIG, has more mortgage debt-related assets to

write off.

To be fair, it is unlikely that the Dow 30 company's increased losses will have too great an impact on its $100m (around £50m) four-year shirt sponsorship of the Red Devils, as modelled by star striker Wayne Rooney (pictured). But still, the news that auditors had discovered that the insurer "had a material weakness" in its financial reporting controls somewhat echoed United's shaky defence last Sunday.

Plastic's fantastic – and the UK is missing out

News that the House of Commons' Innovation, University and Skills Committee will soon be holding an inquiry into the state of the UK's plastic electronics sector is yet another parliamentary case of shutting the door after the horse has bolted. Plastic electronics is a burgeoning industry promising such innovations as flexible electronic displays that you will be able to roll up and put in your pocket, and the UK has developed key skills and knowledge in the sector. But Plastic Logic, a Cambridge University spinout, decided to build its first plastic displays factory in Dresden last year after "Invest in Germany" successfully promoted 'Silicon Saxony"to the company. If only the Commons had decided to take a look at the industry in 2006.

These airline repayments may not be jet-propelled

Those nice people at Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have agreed to return up to £11.50 per flight – for journeys taken between August 2004 and March 2006 – in order to settle claims that they overcharged passengers in the US and the UK for fuel fees on long-haul flights. However, comments posted on internet bulletin boards suggest not many passengers are too impressed with the payout, which amounts to one-third of the fuel surcharge. Our favourite, on the BBC website, came from a person called Jeremy in Cambridge, who strongly suspects that the claims process "will be both protracted and hard-to-understand".

Brunswick's chocolate-coated spinning

PR outfit Brunswick Group, which spins on behalf of some of the UK's biggest companies, created a few giggles at its recent annual media party thanks to the large bowls of Ferrero Rocher chocolates on display at the event. Of course, the rather predictable "Surely you are spoiling us, Mr Ambassador?" quip was much-repeated, but we bet the bowls were empty by the end of the evening.

Another Geordie institution falls on hard times

Sir John Hall, business tycoon and former chairman of Newcastle United, has been given a last chance to prove he is committed to repairing the 17th Century Grade II listed building Woolsington Hall – described by the local paper 'The Journal' as a rapidly deteriorating stately home. Sir John's family business, Cameron Hall Developments, bought the estate in 1994 with the original aim of building a football academy there. But the academy was built at Little Benton instead, so last year Sir John revealed plans to convert Woolsington Hall into a luxury hotel and golf complex. However, the hall is now in such a state of disrepair that Newcastle Council is considering carrying out the work itself. Perhaps the ailing football club could also benefit from the council's help.

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