CITY DIARY

Phillip Beresford, compiler of The Sunday Times' annual Britain's Richest league table, is in a state of high angst at the defection of his co- researcher to a rival rich list. "I am spitting blood," says Beresford. His co-researcher on the ST project for the last three years, Kevin Cahill, has done a bunk to compile Business Age's contribution to wealth tabulation, out next week.

Beresford has vowed revenge. "If I ever see him near a red double decker bus, I will gladly push him under it."

It seems relations between Michael Marks, chairman at Smith New Court and former major shareholder Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, which were quietly strained during the sale of SNC to Merrill Lynch,are doing fine. At a presentation yesterday, to glue the gloss on the marriage of Merrill and SNC, Marks was asked if he had made up with his mercurial major shareholder.

"It's absolutely fine. He's on a long holiday and I have not spoken to him," he replied.

Just in case the grandee's return proves otherwise, Marks added: "We have a fervent desire to have a good relationship with Rothschild."

Perhaps it will be a long holiday.

Winners of the Defensive Driving Campaign, sponsored by Lloyd's insurers Crowe Underwriting, were treated to rather an ironic sight at their prize day out at Brookland's Race Track earlier this week.

While drivers who had submitted winning tips for better driving were treated to a spot of spinning on the skidpad, one of the UK's leading instructors from Universal Driver Training was not enjoying such freedom of movement. Having wowed the audience, Peter Russell and his Isuzu 4x4 suffered a stationary embarrassment. Onlookers had to set him free.

News that the John Lewis Partnership, has finally said yes to a large tranche of Scotland's biggest shopping centre scheme will come as relief to those who had pinned their hopes on the pounds 150m developments' ability to regenerate Glasgow's city centre. One insider tells me that the deal was more off than on for most of the time. But rival retailers will now wonder if the commitment will force the Partnership to reverse the seemingly un-commercial habit of a lifetime and open all its shops on a Monday.

There is no rush though - the development has not yet been built. And as the insider pointed out: "These are all the sorts of things you can do when you don't have shareholders."

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