CITY DIARY

Not one to have his head in the sand when a marketing opportunity presents itself, Archie Norman, Asda's chief executive, had a bunch of weary hacks bussed down to its Roehampton superstore to interview check- out staff about their share option scheme. The hacks spotted something more interesting on the sidelines - ostrich steaks at a bargain price of pounds 10 a pound. Things went from the sublime to the ridiculous when one radio journalist persuaded the chef flash-frying the exotic steaks to taste the product and pronounce her verdict. Fine, she said, but later confessed she could not really tell because she was a vegetarian.

The speed king chairman of BMW, Bernd Pischetsrieder, breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the German authorities decided to drop their investigations into his not-so-small road mishap last month in which he wrote-off a McClaren F1 supercar.

The chairman, his wife and a friend were taking a spin on a remote road outside Munich when one minute the super-fast car, launched in 1992 and capable of 231mph, was on the road and the next minute it was off - in a ditch, leaving the pounds 630,000 car a mere tangle of metal.

The German authorities have now decided not to proceed with any action and that Herr Pischetsrieder should be able to live in peace, as long as he stumps up pounds 11,500 for charity.

The shine on yesterday's achievement by SBC Warburg in actually recruiting someone has been tarnished and senior management left with egg on its face by the fiasco surrounding the defection of its economics team's head, Jim O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill, who joined SBC in 1988, was heavily backed by the great and the good at SBC to get the top job of economics head in the new regime. He took the job at the expense of his counterpart at Warburg, George Magnus, who was consequently left out in the cold and was snapped up by UBS.

However, it seems the new regime was not to Mr O'Neill's liking and he has departed for pastures new at Goldman Sachs' international economic group in New York. Marc Hendriks, who worked with Mr O'Neill, now gets his chance to head the team.

Downsizing is not something George Soros is usually associated with, so shareholders in his macro-market funds will have been surprised to have received a missive from the investor earlier this week stating that his four funds have become too big for him to make winning bets in broad investments in stocks or foreign currencies. Mr Soros will now be limiting his investing habits to only two of the four funds, which are worth around $10bn in total. In the letter, he writes: "Results for 1994 were less than satisfactory and downright poor for the first half of 1995." He continues: "We find that our size is hindering us".

Mr Soros also says he is postponing the launch of a fund that would invest in India, revealing that it "would be inappropriate to start a new fund when we are encountering capacity constraints in our existing funds."

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