CITY DIARY

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The closing chapter of the Wembley saga caused a certain amount of eyebrow raising at the Stock Exchange yesterday morning.

After the enormously complicated restructuring deal was delivered to Threadneedle Street first thing in the morning, Stock Exchange staff had to telephone the company to say the on-screen announcement would be delayed because they did not have enough staff to input all 96 pages in time.

"Apparently it was one of the longest announcements ever," a spokesman at Wembley said.

The Alliance & Leicester building society is lashing out £50,000 to provide a tremendous treat for its members later this year.

The UK's fourth-largest building society is set to broadcast its thrilling annual general meeting on television at the shockingly early time of 5.35am. The broadcast is designed to demonstrateaccountability to its 5 million members.

The society defended the expenditure: "Although it's early in the morning, we hope to be able to boost the number of people watching the meeting." Since only 65-70 people usually turn up to the meeting, that should not be too difficult.

I hear that the slow pace of Scottish & Newcastle's take-over of Courage has taken a toll on Brian Stewart, S&N's chief executive. The long-running talks with Courage have dragged on for so long that last weekend he quit the country and joined his family in Canada for a weekend of skiing.

In October 1994, when Eurotunnel's fortunes reached their lowest ebb, Sir Alastair Morton bravely put his money where his mouth was and, in a much publicised display of chutzpah, bought 5,000 shares in his own company, taking his total Eurotunnel holding to 34,000. The investment has, surprisingly, proved to be alucrative one. Shares have risen by 9 per cent and he has seen a paper profit of about £950.

However, as Eurotunnel faces an equally severe threat to its finances, I hear that the Eurotunnel boss will not be tempted into buying any more shares. "I will be holding on to the ones that I have," he said.

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