Building society big boys strap on the bovver boots

City Diary
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The Independent Online
Euro96 is upon us, and with it that perennial problem, the football hooligan. The police's Football Intelligence Unit is hard at work collating lists of English, German and Dutch yobs who are expected to cause trouble. Some of the worst aggro could, however, come from the building society sector. Andrew Messenger, the newly appointed chief executive of West Bromwich Building Society, has been invited to the quarter-finals by Mike Jackson, his counterpart at Birmingham Midshires - the notoriously aggressive outfit that has been stalking West Brom recently with a view to a merger. Mr Jackson has also invited Dr John Wriglesworth, the extrovert strategy supremo at Bradford and Bingley - which itself would like to act as a "white knight" for West Brom. Perhaps a deal or two will be struck over the half-time champers. If not, a heavy police presence may be required.

Americans have always despised British beer as being flat and warm. It is something to suffer through during holidays here, like rain and bad coffee. All that has changed courtesy of Morland, the Abingdon-based brewer led by chief executive Mike Watts. The share of the US beer market taken by "amber ale", the American name for bitter, has grown to 4 per cent over the last three years. Mr Watts claims that his company's bitter, Old Speckled Hen, is leading the charge. Tastings of this bitter have been held in Boston, Chicago and San Diego. Now if Mr Watts could just get to work marketing our beef...

The Bank of England prides itself on setting a good example to the City. It publishes a full annual report and accounts, for example, even though the Bank is not a plc and has no duty to do so. It may seem churlish then to note that the Bank's 3,800-odd staff and six executive directors receive inflation- linked pensions - but that there is no mention of this lucrative arrangement in the 1996 report. Some actuaries estimate that taking account of inflation can increase the annual cost of a pension by around a third. According to the Greenbury report on directors' remuneration, at least the details of directors' pensions should be included. A Bank spokesman says: "We seek to apply the spirit of Greenbury. There's an awful lot of information in there [the report]." Not about index linking, though. Perhaps next year.

A canny Manhattan property developer has installed a special high-capacity cable in his latest apartment block, which allows tenants to access the Internet 55 times as quickly as the fastest popular modem. Gregory Selgado, sales director for Real Renters, says the East Village building's communal cabling has proven such a hit with tenants that they are prepared to pay well above market rates - $1,700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, plus up to $115 to the Internet provider - which Mr Selgado owns. Where America leads, the world follows. It cannot be too long before City traders will be able to play the markets on the Internet from the comfort of their Docklands lofts.

Fizzer of a share: This year's winner of the Singer & Friedlander Company Investor Show's best-performing share prize is Andy Crossley (above, centre), a fund manager at Invesco Asset Management. Mr Crossley correctly predicted that Cortecs International, the pharmaceutical company, would be the best-performing share from exhibitors at last October's show, over the following six months. He received a Methuselah of champagne from Marc Cramsie (left), of S&F, accompanied by John Breckon of Imperator, which organised the exhibition. Cortecs' share price rose from 101p to 383p in six months.

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