CITY DIARY

Nick Leeson, the former Barings derivatives dealer, may soon have a record of a different kind. Mr Leeson is reported to have started a singing career from his Frankfurt cell.

Reports from Germany claim that the financial speculator sang Frank Sinatra's anthem My Way direct onto tape down the phone line for a British punk rock band to use on one of their tracks.

The only flaw in this scenario is that Mr Leeson was apparently singing it to his children - of which he has none. Mr Leeson's lawyer's opinion is that his client was approached but refused the band's offer. Sub-titled 'Don't call us we'll call you', the album is called Selling England for a Pound.

Two ex-directors of bookshop chain Waterstone's are dancing with delight after a High Court judge decided this week that there should be no delay in reviewing the agreement that fixes book prices.

That's because Julian Toland, a founder member of Waterstone's, and Hazel Broadfoot, who has managed some of the chain's flagship stores, plan to set up in business themselves.

The two have ploughed pounds 70,000 into a venture to open a new chain of bookshops, and are searching for additional backers through Venture Capital Report.

They claim their business plan will succeed because it turns on giving book-buyers expert product knowledge - the very thing, they say, that WH Smith watered down when it bought Waterstone's in 1989. Once the concept has been tested, they hope to expand to 10 shops, with a projected net profit of pounds 1.5m.

Cars driven by Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles may have proved a hit with five-year-olds, but toy-maker Corgi is now driving in a different direction. Managing director Chris Guest and his team have just completed the MBO of Corgi from Mattel for pounds 13.2m with the help of the appropriately named Brent Wheeler of venture-capital company CINVen.

Corgi is best known for its 1963 James Bond Aston Martin. Mr Guest says the company now aims to capitalise on the boom in the older generation getting back to its roots and buying classic "die-cast collectables" again. The market is worth around pounds 50m a year in the UK alone.

The London reinsurance and insurance market is no stranger to difficult times. So it seems likely that Nick Lowe, the newly appointed public-affairs manager for the London Insurance and Reinsurance Market Association, will feel right at home.

Mr Lowe spent six years with the Conservative flagship Westminster City Council - best known for the council-homes-for-votes scandal - where he worked as a policy analyst and manager of the council's international relations programme.

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