Chunnel Trouble set to make Lord Sterling's day

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The Independent Online
Here's the perfect gift for Lord Sterling's Christmas stocking: a new game called "Chunnel Trouble".

The P&O chairman, whose ferries are locked in combat with Eurotunnel for cross-Channel business, will no doubt be delighted by the game, which consists of nine blocks and two railway lines.

The makers, Pentangle of Hampshire, say: "Players are told that the British and French railway workers have been asked to keep two trains simultaneously running through the Channel Tunnel link.

"Unfortunately, due to unforeseen maintenance problems, only one main line is available. By shunting the carriages of two trains in and out of the siding under the sea, can you help them avoid the loss of business to the ferry companies?"

The game is causing huge mirth at P&O, which is merging its cross-Channel ferry operations with its rival, Stena. The game retails at pounds 9.99 and is in the Save the Children Christmas catalogue.

A spokesman for Lord Sterling, suspects there may be more to the game's maker than meets the eye: "It's not a subsidiary of Eurotunnel in a desperate attempt to get down its interest burden, is it?"

No, it isn't. Ron Cook, who founded Pentangle in the village of Over Wallop near Andover 25 years ago, says Chunnel Trouble is an adaptation of a game which was invented in 1973.

"We initially tried to interest both the ferry people and the Shuttle company in Chunnel Trouble." Sadly they were not interested.

"Funny, that," comments a Eurotunnel spokesperson acidly.

Whent went, in came Gent. Vodafone has promoted Chris Gent as chief executive in place of Sir Gerald Whent, who is to retire at the end of the year. From 1 January 1997, Mr Whent will become a non-executive director and deputy chairman.

Sir Ernest Harrison, chairman of Vodafone, says: "Gerry Whent is now 69 and has been chief executive since the company was formed 13 years ago ... His performance has been magnificent." A Vodafone spokesman went further, describing him as "the Godfather of the industry".

Mr Whent will now have more time to help his wife Sarah, who breeds race horses. Several weeks ago he sold some Vodafone options to buy more land for the gee-gees.

Sibling rivalry is alive and well at BZW. Last week Keith Jenkins was recruited from Morgan Stanley as a director and head of BZW's yen trading in London. Yesterday Keith's brother Gary Jenkins, who joined BZW 11 years ago, was promoted to be head of European credit research in the bank's fixed income division.

Apparently Gary, who coached cricket for the MCC at Lords before he entered the City in 1985, told a BZW press spokesperson. "You sent out a press release about Keith, so you can send one out about me."

Now the race is on for the biggest Christmas bonus.

"Crook is new ML Holdings chief." That's how the ICV company news service chose to convey the appointment yesterday of Derek Crook as chief operating officer for the ML engineering group.

The chairman of ML, Tim Sallitt, says that Mr Crook will replace Howard Grant, who is retiring.

Mr Sallitt explains: "The shift in ML's business interests from aerospace engineering to electronic component distribution means that Mr Crook, who has for some years been the director responsible for the group's ECD companies, is ideally suited to take the group forward through the next stage of its development."

Perhaps it is no surprise that Rowland Gee, the ebullient managing director of Moss Bross, has been so successful at opening up new clothes stores. Mr Gee learnt his trade at father Cecil Gee's Shaftesbury Avenue shop in the Sixties, where stars like Sir Cliff Richard and Adam Faith would drop in for a cappuccino at the store's coffee bar while they waited to collect their "fab gear".

Then Mr Gee junior was packed off the Paris to learn the fashion trade proper. He still gets a kick from opening new stores, says a spokesmen, as could be seen a week ago at the new Manchester branch of Hugo Boss. It's not all glamour, though. Mr Gee has sensibly stuck to a cheap head office above Clapham Junction railway station. I wonder if it's got a cappuccino bar?