CITY DIARY

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The Independent Online
Pierre Lescure, the exuberant chief executive of France's Canal Plus, drew an unfortunate parallel while re-assuring the markets about the financial health of his beleaguered broadcasting group. The share price fell 10 per last week after the company announced halved profits. "As Danton, the French philosopher once said, tout s'explice, - everything can be explained," he said as he began his complicated presentation to analysts. Has the theatrical frenchman forgotten his history? Georges- Jacques Danton, the revolutionary thinker who played a crucial part in the overthrow of Louis XVI, ended his days an enemy of the Terror and was beheaded.

The traders at Liffe had a nasty scare yesterday when Daniel Hodson, chief executive, came over the Tannoy to warn them that a colleague had come down with meningitis which, in its worst forms, is highly contagious. The 2,000 traders, pressed together on the over-crowded trading floor like sardines had a worrying wait until, later in the afternoon, the authorities found the victim bacteria was non-contagious. "It made an interesting distraction on a boring day," said one nonchalant trader. Six weeks ago the traders had another disease scare when two of their number went down with a different form of meningitis. The whole market will be consumed with disease at this rate.

The fire at a warehouse opposite Spitalfields flower market, which is being investigated as potential arson, came at a unfortunate time for the householders storing their furniture there. They had to move their possession shortly because the 1920s building was due to be demolished this summer to make way for a residential development by St Georges on land held by Spitalfields Development Group . "It was going to be knocked down, anyway," said a group representative.

Disney, already troubled by the loss of a senior executive yesterday, has been involved in a row over product placement on British television. The Independent Television Commission reprimanded GMTV, partly-owned by Disney, for plugging Disney's theme parks and products on its morning programmes. The channel has taken steps to prevent a repeat of the unfortunate incident.

When Michael Heseltine arrived at the DTI he heralded a new entrepreneurial regime, ordering office-bound civil servants to get out and learn about industry. Six staff at the vehicles division, who are responsible for giving out grants, have commendably taken his words to heart and, with department money, bought a Caterham 114k Dion 5-speed racing car in kit form for £16,000. They plan to assemble the speedy roadster, learning about the industry along the way. Sadly they cannot keep the finished vehicle and have promised to sell it back to Caterham for a rather unenterprising £14,000.

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