CITY DIARY : Sir Rocco finds fortitude under London skies

This hostile takeover business really is most tiresome. Not only has the Granda bid for Forte played havoc with Sir Rocco's pheasant shooting. It has also done for the family Christmas holiday. Unlike last year (when the caterer learned of his ennoblement on a Caribbean island) Sir Rocco will be eschewing la dolce vita in favour of his London desk.

Not that he is complaining. No, Sir Rocco is now of the view that eight- eighths cloud cover is good for the constitution. And, he claims, he has not had so much fun in years. He is, to coin a phrase, a new man. Who wants to go to the West Indies when you can slug it out with Gerry Robinson over the fate of your inheritance?

The key to Sir Rocco's determination can probably be traced back to the day the pounds 3.3bn bid was launched. The hotelier confesses to being deeply concerned about being caught on a pheasant shoot in Yorkshire when Gerry Robinson, the Granada marksman, let loose with both barrels. A Christmas break at Forte's pounds 1,000-a-night Sandy Beach Hotel in Barbados is no way to convince waivering shareholders.

Still, if Sir Rocco is looking for a Caribbean flavour to his Christmas he can always pop over to Mr Robinson's abode in Notting Hill Gate, home of the famous London carnival.

Iceland Frozen Foods is the unlikely vehicle chosen by Rupert Murdoch to reward his loyal minions. Staff at the Times have been told that their Christmas bonus has come in the form of a free turkey voucher. This has not gone down fantastically well with staff who have spent a fortune to qualify for the Tesco free Christmas turkey.

News filters through from the front in the never-ending war against musical piracy. That spineless organisation, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, concedes that it has ordered a tactical withdrawal from its Canton office in China on the grounds that staff had been threatened with instant loss of life.

"The situation there became untenable when we heard from reliable sources that hitmen had been contracted on behalf of certain CD factories to halt our operation," bleats the IFPI. "This is not a shutdown. The IFPI will continue to provide support for the Chinese government's initiatives against piracy."

Suggestions that the IFPI has had about as much efffect as the United Nations in Bosnia have not been appreciated. "The fight against piracy is always a dangerous one," insists Nic Garnett, director general of IFPI. "This is not the first time that we have had to halt operations in Asia. In the past threats to staff in Taiwan and Thailand led to offices being closed."

Today's lesson is read by the bruiser Ken Harvey, chairman of Norweb. The combative executive is one of the captains of industry who have been persuaded to dispense pearls of wisdom to18-year-old school-leavers.

Borrowing from Mark Twain, Mr Harvey writes: "When I was 18 my parents were so ignorant I could hardly bear to have them around. But when I got to be 25 I was astonished to learn how much they had learned in seven years."

Yes yes. But what of the hurly-burly of corporate culture? "Be nice to people you pass on the way up," reflects Mr Harvey (whose company is now under the control of North West Water). "You might meet them again on the way down."

The November trade figures prove an early Christmas present for Ian Lang, President of the Board of Trade, who delights in the export effort. Apart from baguettes to France (Diary passim), we cleaned up by selling flower bulbs to the Netherlands (Anglo Flora), aquarium sand to Oman (Pet Products) and indoor ski slopes to Taiwan (Acer Snowmec).

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links