CITY DIARY

If Nick Leeson is getting bored in his German jail, he might like to give thought to one Iwan D Herstatt, who died in Germany last week at the age of 81. His bank, the Bankhaus Herstatt of Cologne, collapsed in 1974 after DM1.2bn was swallowed in foreign exchange speculation. The case against Herstatt and others did not get to court until 1979. He constantly maintained his innocence and blamed his employees. In 1987, he finally got two years' probation for breach of trust. In his 1992 autobiography Die Vernichtung (Annihilation), Herstatt described himself as feeling like a "poor fish struggling after being plucked from the water and left to perish on land".

Corporate executives mystified by the media's interest in their pay picked up some tips yesterday from Nick Miles of Financial Dynamics, who dished out advice to the great and good at a pay seminar nattily entitled: "Executive pay: can you ever get it right?"

Mr Miles predicted that annual meetings of the future will all be about shareholders voting on the leading lights' pay packages. He advised those in the phone number pay bracket not to be economical with the truth and not to hide behind old adages, such as justifying their pay as the going international rate.

Mr Miles said it was not the whole package that the public reacted to as much as the salary itself, where pounds 1m marks the pain barrier. It is not known whether British Gas's Cedric Brown, of the 75 per cent pay rise, was in attendance.

The postponement of summer has led armchair sports enthusiasts to lay siege to the fast moving world of spread betting, which lets one bet on just about anything that moves, not just which team or horse will win. It's far more entertaining to bet on the number of times a team's trainer will whip his sponge out.

Compton Hellyer, founder of Sporting Index, a specialist in sports spread betting, refused to be drawn on how the company will fare out of spread betting's recent ascent, but he did confirm that Sporting Index takes an average of around 5,000 bets a week.

In the first two weeks of the Rugby World Cup this shot up to 17,000 bets in total, moving the average up to 8,500, and last week at least 5,000 of those bets were on the rugby alone.

Staff qualifications include being a sports junkie and an ex-trader, such as Alistair Hunter, who used to deal in Japanese warrants and is now a senior rugby trader.

A meeting scheduled for yesterday at SG Warburg did not attract as much attention as the recent shareholders' vote on the sale of Warburg to Swiss Bank Corporation, where it was standing room only.

A meeting of 6.5 per cent subordinated convertible bonds 2008 of SG Warburg was cancelled due to lack of a quorum, not interest apparently, according to a Warburg spokesman.

Only five people turned up. At least two-thirds of the bonds held need to be represented.

Better luck next time perhaps. When the meeting convenes again, the quorum needed drops to only a third.

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