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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory