CITY DIARY

Not a great deal of excitement enters the steady world of Smith & Nephew, if you discount the latest round of bid rumours. However, the maker of Elastoplast, of which it sells nearly 2 million packets a year, should be able to smile about the latest use of its most famous product.

A gardener from the North came unstuck while tending his crop of sunflowers, accidentally chopping one five-foot specimen in half. Reaching for an Elastoplast, said gardener stuck stalks back together and now boasts a sunflower eight feet high. A spokesman for S&N said he could not comment on the fusion but agreed that the properties of the Elastoplast could engender such growth.

Never a dull moment in the world of financial services. In court yesterday for the curtain-raiser between Sun Life and the Personal Investment Authority over whether the company should be obliged to contribute to the investors' compensation scheme, things got a bit out of hand.

Justice Sedley, presiding over the haggle, may be familiar with who the Rolling Stones are, but was defeated by the anachronisms which crowd the world of personal finance.

After an hour's argument by Sun Life's QC, Charles Flint, who managed many times to allude to the PIA, SIB, the AFBD and the FSA, Justice Sedley halted proceedings to demand a lexicon be devised to guide him through the verbiage.

The dress-down policy at SBC Warburg continues to send ripples through the newly merged bank at its "get to know you" informal Friday lunches, which alternate between ex-Warburg's and SBC offices. While the younger set of Warburgers have taken most readily to the more casual approach of shirtsleeves sans tie, older members of the order still frown on the laid-back approach to attire. At one recent lunch a senior SBC-er arrived in casuals and found himself subjected to close scrutiny by ex-Warburgers already seated at the table.

Eyes roamed down to the footwear of the executive - hoping perhaps to spot a pair of the white socks so beloved of the Swiss. The scrutineer was disappointed to discover that not only was the SBC-er not wearing white socks, he was entirely sans socks. Nothing like confounding your critics.

In a very un-Cadburyesque move, the Swiss insurer Winterthur has appointed John Finan as joint chairman and managing director of its UK life operation. He will also become the first non-Swiss chairman at the group.

"Swiss companies tend to have a culture very much of their own," a spokesman said. Something, no doubt, ex-Warburgers at SBC could testify to.

Mercury Asset Management has its fingers in some curious pies, not least a pounds 20m stake in London Stadium Hackney, one of the country's leading greyhound racetracks.

MAM's slice of the action has enabled the new pounds 10m stand to be built which will also house some upmarket eateries.

The kitchens are to be masterminded by no less than Michelin-starred Richard Corrigan, who joins the stadium from the trendy Fulham Road eatery, and whose experience also encompasses Mulligans in Cork Street and Bentleys. Menu ideas are a closely guarded secret as the stand will not open until October. Your next corporate day out could well be with the dogs.

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