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It seems that Nikko Europe managed to recruit one of the most experienced fixed-income traders in the London market, Nick Berry, in the nick of time. When Nikko Europe's co-chairman, Michel de Carvalho, called to recruit him, Mr Berry, who has been running his own business for a year, was five minutes away from accepting a job offer from another bank.

Mr De Carvalho, who has known the former head of eurobond trading at NatWest Capital Markets for 10 years, is delighted that he is coming on board as MD and head of trading for the fixed income and money markets division. The sport-mad Mr De Carvalho could do with the help. He now has five children all under the age of 10, and tries to fit in at least 100 miles a week on his road bike.

In an effort to improve its public image following several years of dismal publicity, Yorkshire Water went to great expense to produce a corporate brochure with which to woo customers.

The plan, however, went awry after the brochures were sent out according to postal codes.

No one told the chairman, Sir Gordon Jones, that postcodes do not equate with the water boundaries. Some brochures ended up in Bishop Auckland, whose water is supplied by Northumbrian Water.

A spokesman was not saying how many brochures had ebbed into the wrong district, or how much they cost to produce, but at least 26,000 were sent out originally. Northumbrian customers were keeping quiet on whether they had also received the pounds 10 rebate intended for Yorkshire customers.

A little creativity can go a long way. The latest annual report of Ares- Serono, the Swiss-based biotechnology group and world-leader in the treatment for infertility, featured a musical theme complete with manuscript-like paper and a musical chip.

Open it up and you can experience Beethoven's Fur Elise. According to Christophe Lamps of Serono, the musical theme is intended to reflect "the restoration of harmony to the bodies cells".

Slightly odd, though, for a company that takes such pride in its research capability that it could not find a tune that better reflected what the company did. Mr Lamps said they had to settle for a tune "which was familiar to everyone. The musical chips are good, but you can't quite get a whole orchestra on one".

Excuses don't come much better than that offered by the man who wrote on his motor insurance claim form that the accident was caused by him waving to the man he ran over the previous week.

But Richard Coleman and Simon Sammels at Smith New Court have injected a light-hearted note into their most recent Bank Sector Bulletin by including some genuine excuses given to arrears departments by mortgage customers who have missed their repayments.

"I've just been on holiday in Barbados" and "I didn't like the house once I had bought it" come in as close favourites; topped only perhaps by "My bonus wasn't as big as I hoped."