CITY DIARY

The departure of Jeffrey Gould yesterday from the chief executive's chair at Upton & Southern is a bitter disappointment for the 51-year- old entrepreneur and for the shareholders in the ambitious retail group.

Having made his name building up the John Kent group, Mr Gould hoped to establish a new high street presence out of the ashes of the Reject Shop chain. But his plans stumbled after a £2.75m row over the value of Reject Shop inventories. With the departure of James Hodgkinson, former head of Kingfisher's B&Q chain, from the chairman's office, the company is now led by Ron Trenter, former head of the Texas DIY chain.

However, the share price of 41/4p suggests that shareholders do not believe that, even after the cruel sweep of a new broom, the recently appointed executive chairman stands a chance of saving the group.

Philip Lewis, a chartered surveyor with Conrad Ritblat, did not expect a brush with death when he posed for a charity brochure for London zoo. The spider on his hand is called Frieda and she is an endangered poisonous red-kneed bird-eating spider from Mexico.

Arthur Trueger's appointment of Schroder's John Aston as lead adviser in the sale of Govett & Company comes as no surprise to those familiar with the sale of Jupiter Tyndall. Last week his name emerged as the man responsible for selling John Duffield's fund management group in a deal valuing the company at £174m, the top of most estimates. No doubt Mr Treuger and his fellow directors hope the banker can pull off the same trick again.

The Society of Insolvency Practitioners faces a grim future as corporate collapse and disaster peter out. The threat posed by new employees' rights, upheld in the House of Lords ruling last week, could mean more work for no pay as practitioners calculate how to distribute £400m owed to directors and staff of companies that collapsed over the last eight years.

However, today the society welcomes Allan Griffiths, the 49-year-old head of corporate recovery at Grant Thornton, as president. The Liverpudlian accountant made his name dealing with Queens Moat, Lancer Boss and Keith Prowse. Now he has sworn to take his profession's case to Jonathan Evans, the DTI minister, as forcefully as possible. Two fearless City analysts barely escaped with their lives last week after a hair-raising encounter with a 12-foot alligator while playing golf in Miami. Neil "Fabulous Baker Boy" Baker and Martin "the White Cato" Hughes, the top-ranked banking analysts at Credit Lyonnais Laing, had met for a quick round after the bank reporting season. Just as they were teeing off from the thirteenth hole a course warden rushed over to warn them about the approaching reptile. Run away in zig-zags to avoid being eaten, he advised. Determined to finish the course, the plucky Englishmen continued round the Boyne South course, guarding each others' backs and stepping over snakes on the way. "Playing out of water was the worst part," said Baker.

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