CITY DIARY

SBC Warburg will no doubt settle down one day but right now it is proving hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Since the departure of Mark Nicolls, head of corporate finance, a renewed period of turmoil has set in.

Five "elephant hunters" have been appointed to seek out new business. Meanwhile, three head honchos take up the task of managing the operation - including George Feiger, a former McKinsey man brought in only last April to oversee the integration of Swiss Bank and Warburg. Since corporate finance at Warburg used to be run on a collegiate basis, the changes have put quite a few noses out of joint - most dramatically that of Piers von Simpson, who said he was resigning during a recent emotional speech. So far he has failed to go through with the threat but he is not the only one to feel slighted.

To add insult to injury, one of the elephant hunters is Brian Keelan, a bete noire among Warburg staff for what he did while head of corporate finance at SBC. Not a happy ship right now.

Caroline Hammond of the film finance company, Screen Partners, wants to stand on top of the world. The North Pole to be precise. She approached the Polar Travel Company, and together they invented the women's polar relay. There have already been 150 applications, although there are only 20-25 places on the team. The search is now on for a sponsor.

A Manweb manager in Chester thought another white knight had arrived to fend off the unwelcome bid from Scottish Power when a bunch of Americans stepped through his shop door. They were from the Arizona Public Service Corp, led by its chief operating officer, one Dudley J Post. Unfortunately they were on a genuine mission to buy a kettle - following a long-standing engagement across the road at Manweb headquarters in Chester. Not to be outdone, Scottish Power has offered a toaster to add to Post's electrical collection.

Marketing executives are flying high in more ways than one these days. For them the excesses of the Eighties never went away. A survey by Nick Rhines of marketing agency LVB indicates that marketers of the Nineties are sex-mad drug addicts who hanker after a BMW or a Porsche - but probably drive a Vauxhall. Rhines tells me that up to 40 per cent of the respondents thought their colleagues were on drugs. Nearly a third take drugs themselves, with the favourite illegal substance being marijuana, followed by speed, cocaine and ecstasy. It should come as no surprise that 51 respondents said they did not know if they had counselling for stress. Rather puts yesterday's incident of the Spliffe at Liffe in the shade.

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