CITY DIARY

Taking a break from the takeover rumours that have dogged United Biscuits, chief executive Eric Nicoli has been doing a spot of number- crunching with his marketing team. It is not known how many biscuits Mr Nicoli gets through every day, but on the whole, according to the company, men account for 49 per cent of total biscuit consumption.

Despite suffering from a squeeze on margins, biscuits are still big business and the Brits eat more per head than their Continental cousins. According to the company, more than 90 million biscuits are eaten each day in the UK - which crumbles down to 1,500 biscuits a second, or 11.4kg per head per year. That compares with the European average of only 8.1kg, or just 2.1kg in abstemious Norway.

With the biscuit market now worth an impressive pounds 1.6bn annually - a rise of 63 per cent in 10 years - it looks as if UB will remain an attractive buy.

More musical chairs at CS First Boston, which has not had a happy time of it since Steve Thompson of UBS replaced Dan Mead as head of research. Feathers were ruffled as Mr Thompson was appointed over Albert Richards, who was widely expected to get the job. Mr Richards reacted by taking off for Salomon to head its research and proceeded to recruit new faces from his old firm.

Things then seemed to settle for CSFB - until late last week, when media analyst Meg Geldens walked off to ABN Amro Hoare Govett.

Selling "portion-controlled" oven-ready meat is not exactly the hottest or hippest occupation for a former owner of the Hard Rock chain of restaurants. But for Barry Cox, now chairman of meat-supplier Whitchurch Group, which floated last year, breaking into meaty markets is more his style these days.

Yesterday he announced the acquisition of RG Foods, owned by his old friend Richard Thompson, which makes and sells beefburgers to up-market ventures throughout the country, including the memorabilia-stuffed Hard Rock chain, now owned by leisure and entertainment group Rank.

The deal was a sweet one for Mr Cox. Not only does it bring together a second generation of Coxes and Thompsons - Barry's father used to be in business with Richard's - it was also a lot less painful than his efforts to sell the Hard Rock chain.

Mr Cox was about to sell the chain to Pleasurama just before lifting off on honeymoon. Nuptial bliss was disturbed by a fax that informed him the whole deal was off. Ever dedicated to business, Mr Cox managed to put things back on the right footing while on his honeymoon.

Max Taylor, chief executive of insurance broker Willis Corroon, has been dropping back into old habits. With his plan to cut costs by pounds 26m on track, he dusted down his guitar to play at his silver wedding anniversary party last week.

Before he found satisfaction in insurance, Mr Taylor played in a "band or two" and was involved in a company that managed bands. One of the firm's charges was the successful heavy-metal group Hawkwind.

Mr Taylor has no plans to go back into the rock business, though, and says he will just keep on playing for his own amusement. After all, he still has a lot of cost-cutting to go and a new chairman to find.

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