CITY & BUSINESS: ROGUE TRADER
Sunday 28 March 1999
Blue Circle Industries to report. Keith Orrell-Jones was supposed to be moving to Smith Industries, a leader in the fat-catastic drugs and biotech sector. But Britain's most intensely boring company has clearly given him the corporate equivalent of a concrete overcoat and so he's staying put.
Blue Circle profits are steady but dipped last year due to a cock-up in Canada. The company is now investing heavily the Far East where, reportedly, the Sultan of Brunei is thinking of concreting over his back garden - Borneo. Dull stock, but could do well re-building Europe if Kosovar conflict escalates to all-out, thermo-nuclear war.
Manchester United to report. Just over a decade ago Robert Maxwell offered to buy Man United for pounds 10m. He pulled out when the Fat Cat Edwards clan (the dynasty of Lancastrian Meat [Not Cat] Pie moguls who own the club) asked for pounds 15m. It is now worth about pounds 800m; even though Murdoch has stacked the pack, and will get it at about a pounds 200m discount. Had Captain Bob realised this, he might not have killed himself.
AG Barr, makers of the "hard" soft-drink Irn-Bru to report. Feeling the squeeze from Coca-Cola and being bullied over the right to produce a brake- fluid-coloured drink called Orangina. Irn-Bru, fizzy water apparently flavoured in some way by Glaswegian scrap metal, is the favourite hangover cure in Rab C Nesbitt-land. But the company has recently been done by the advertising standards authority for overly violent advertising of the "See You Jimmy!" variety.
Widney. Small electronics and engineering firm still in the old-fashioned business of making useful objects - or "manufacturing" as old farts are apt to call it. Therefore troubled. But could be a takeover target, turning scrawny dog into fleshy feline.
Nothing happening at all. Fake a cold, stay in bed and take some Beecham's Powders.
NB: Due to a typographical error, last week's item about Dolt Telecom may have been taken to refer to Colt Telecom - an entirely different kettle of fish. While Dolt is "thrashing around like a headless chicken", Colt has faced up to the competitive conditions in the European business telecoms market. It has a focused corporate strategy, and its sales are growing rapidly. Prediction: Colt will blow Dolt out of the water.
This week's financial cats ...
FAT CAT: Asprin czar Jan Leschly - pounds 90m-a-year boss of SmithKline Beecham, maker of white pharmaceutical powder sold in little paper packets.
DEAD CAT: Famously bounces when thrown off top of skyscrapers during periodic market adjustments.
EXTREMELY UGLY YET MASSIVELY TALENTED AND REALLY USEFUL CAT: Andrew Lloyd- Weber
FLAT CAT: Flat Eric, not strictly a cat as such, but dumb furry animal who is all image and no brain and therefore taking the world of marketing by storm.
Last week's commodity news in a nutshell ...
Oil was steady before the Opec meeting, then shot up, and then came back down again. Aluminium rallied because the people who make it in Canada have closed down their smelter. Gold and iron were up because Cyclone Vance has flooded northern Australia. Sugar reached a 12-year low - the Brazilians are producing far too much of it now that they've given up on the much talked-about gimmick of using it to fuel cars. Cotton's going nowhere. Coal, coffee, cobalt and most things beginning with c were heavily marked down. Palm oil was subdued. Tanzanian seaweed is too expensive - they are paying themselves pounds 15 a month to harvest it and have priced themselves out of a job. Australians can't be bothered to dig up coal any more. Copper jumped to a five-year high.
Priceless advice, life-saving information, amazing facts and other nuggets which are definitely worth paying to read. This week culled from Your Money magazine's health insurance supplement...
"The best way to avoid expensive medical treatment is to `stay healthy'."
"To a large extent, you are what you eat."
"Regular exercise is vital for a healthy heart."
"The problem with health insurance is that it is far from cheap."
"Many people believe it is the job of the Government to fund healthcare provision. Many people are wrong."
"In general, insurance policies offering wider cover are more expensive. But we aren't told the exceptions."
Your Money's jargon buster explains these complicated terms:
"In-patient" - a patient who is admitted to a bed in a hospital ward for hospital treatment.
"Out-patient" - a patient who receives treatment at a hospital, but is not admitted to a bed in a hospital ward."
"Mental impairment" - the worsening or loss of intellectual or mental abilities," as evidenced by, say, reading Your Money.
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