CITY DIARY

Maurice Saatchi was on acerbic form at the New Saatchi Agency's lunch table yesterday. Talking about rumours that Hollywood will make a film about the Saatchi saga, he complained: "Of course, it's not a comedy. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs, shareholders have lost nearly half their value in eight weeks - all because great clients, loyal for decades through good times and bad times, were treated with extraordinary arrogance."

Turning to the advertisements produced by rivals, he dismissed them as "McAds" and went on to describe Tony Blair's clause four kerfuffle as "McPolitics". His policy for the year ahead? "To hit first! To hit hard! And to keep on hitting!"

Rupert Pennant-Rea was due to visit South Africa on a trade mission this weekend. In their enthusiasm to eradicate all mention of him, the trip's organisers have blotted out his name from the itinerary in a way which seems to give his job as deputy governor of the Bank to Sir Brian Pearce, former chief executive of the Midland.

How heartening to know that Kenneth Clarke is not letting recent attacks from his own back benches disrupt his normal business. Yesterday, I hear he was at breakfast with clients of Shandwick, the PR company that employs Peter Gummer, the brother of his Cabinet colleague John Gummer. The clients included SG Warburg, Tarmac and GE Capital.

We all know there is no need for the Chancellor to earn brownie points in the City when everything seems to be going so well at No 11 - but the clients seem to find such occasions worthwhile. Paddy Ashdown and Mo Mowlem are past guests and I hear Tim Eggar is next in for dinner. "It is a terrific marketing tool," said a Shandwick spokesman.

John Siddall, the Manchester-based stockbroker, is doubling its four- person presence in London. Most recent recruit is the sprightly Brian Goymer who, as a semi-professional football player, played in goal for West Ham and Barnet. At 55 he now spends more time raising money for his local team, Potters Bar Town, than dashing round the pitch.

Promotion of the relatively obscure Nobuyuki Idei to the presidency of Sony has caused raised eyebrows among the analysts. He was, after all, the man who announced the much-criticised decision to compete against the video disc standard being supported by Toshiba and Matsushita. Experts in Japan are already speculating that Idei will not be able to fill the shoes of Akio Morita, the co-founder who stepped down last year.

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