CITY DIARY

The early news of PowerGen's bid for Midlands Electricity in last Friday's papers "didn't come out as a leak. It came out in my view as a professional deep-throated briefing," Ed Wallis, the PowerGen boss, said yesterday.

Unruffled by the fact that the bid is now agreed and they are all on the same side, Mr Wallis blamed the briefing on Midlands' public relations advisers, Cardew & Co.

Mr Wallis professed himself extremely annoyed on the grounds that some people had assumed his side was responsible. But not to worry - by the weekend it looked as if it was to PowerGen's advantage.

Mr Wallis said that rather than the original intention of getting a better price by early disclosure, the leak forced the Midlands board to make up its mind about the offer.

While we're on the subject, Midlands Electricity was due to replace Eastern Electricity in the FT-SE 100 index yesterday following the latter's acquisition by Hanson. The move is likely to be brief, however, as PowerGen has clinched an agreed bid for Midland. Is this a record?

Nobody likes walking naked into the conference chamber, as Britain's postwar foreign minister, Ernest Bevin, so eloquently put it. WorldCover Direct, a company that provides annual travel insurance policies, had a claim which illustrates the point.

A businessman was travelling around the Middle East and wound up in Dubai, just 12 hours away from an important business conference.

Disaster loomed, how- ever, when he discovered that his luggage had ended up in Amsterdam. With nothing to wear but the sweat-soaked clothes he was in, our man then rang WorldCover Direct's "Concierge Hotline", which produced one tailor and one shoemaker to kit him out. The result - a suit, shirt socks, tie, shoes and cufflinks were all supplied, and our hero proudly strode into the meeting to make his pitch. History does not record whether he was successful.

The Economist magazine had a burglary recently in which at least two computers were stolen; they contained work for a forth- coming piece on The World in 1996. Is this symbolic?

Midland Bank is leading the appeal for pounds 4m to send our athletes off to the next Olympics in Atlanta next year. The UK is the only country apart from the US which does not provide any government money for the Olympic team.

The HSBC-owned bank has set up 166 groups around the country to raise the money, each one headed by a senior Midland man- ager, along with other members of the local community. With just eight months to go, the fund-raising drive will be launched on Wednesday by world-record-breaking runner Seb Coe. He will unveil a six-foot-high clock overlooking the Thames from HSBC's head office on Lower Thames Street. And all 350 athletes will release a balloon each. Luminaries like Adrian Moorhouse and Tessa Sanderson will be there, as well as rowers Geoff and Jonny Searle.

Ronnie Frost, the former chicken salesman who is now chief executive of Hays business services, was looking very dapper yesterday as he announced another thumping set of results in his distribution and personnel business.

Matching his fetching red braces was a bright red tie featuring small teddy bears holding hands.

Why the sartorial whimsy, one pondered?

"My daugther gave it to me to wear on Saturday when I married her off," he said positively beaming with pride.

He then opened his jacket wider to give those present an even better view.

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