CITY DIARY

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The Independent Online
Barclays Bank has snapped up Peter Jarvis, the 53-year-old group chief executive at brewer Whitbread as a non-executive director.

The idea is to inject some marketing experience into the board. Mr Jarvis, an ex-Unilever employee, is widely credited with bringing about the transformation at Whitbread along with the chairman Sir Michael Angus, also ex-Unilever.

Mr Jarvis will also sit on the remuneration and nomination committee but his own fee is not being disclosed. Whatever it is, he can add it to his pounds 375,458 basic salary at Whitbread along with pounds 135,000 performance- related pay and his fees from non-executive directorships at Burton Group and the Rank Organisation.

Spotted. Two executives carrying two large presentation portfolios on the Docklands Light Railway on their way back from Canary Wharf to Bank tube station. A label on the folders listed the contents as being the "high level strategy for BZW staff migration to Cabot Square".

One wonders what the advice is. At any rate, migrating birds from BZW should note flying around the Docklands is not recommended. Canary Wharf tends to get in the way.

More customers look set to benefit from the battle between motor insurers for custom after Royal Bank's Direct Line announced premium rate cuts.

Premium Search, the telesales insurance operation owned by CE Heath, rushed out its own rates yesterday offering coverage to a wider age range than is usual. It seems they can even cover a 15-year-old living in Gloucester and driving a Vauxhall - a rare being at that age. A sheepish Philip da Silva at Premium Search admitted the figure should have read 35.

Germany's fourth largest bank, Commerzbank, could not quite make up its mind whether or not it was bidding for Britain's top stockbroker, Smith New Court, earlier this week.

Following anxious inquiries, Commerzbank sent a scribbled fax to our correspondent saying that the bank was not talking to SNC and it knew nothing of a takeover. It then called back to ask if it could possibly replace the hastily scribbled note with "no comment"?

Dialling the wrong fax number has been known to create large amounts of embarrassment. The latest victim of the loose finger syndrome is Belgium's transport minister, Elio dey Rupo, setting a July deadline for Air France to make a decision on selling its stake in the Belgian national carrier, Sabena.

Unfortunately the highly confidential fax arrived not chez Air France boss Christian Blanc, but at a grocer's shop in Rijkervorsel. Needless to say the grocer was surprised to hear that the Belgian government wanted his agreement on an offer to back the Bfr4bn Air France had invested in Sabena in 1992..

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