CITY DIARY

Michael Grade, chairman of VCI, has put his wallet where his mouth is and published the company's annual report on CD-rom.

The multimedia publication comes with examples of company's music and video which include Thomas the Tank Engine and Mr Bean. For analysts not yet plugged into the new technology, the disk makes a great frisbee.

Gay Evans, managing director of Bankers Trust International, was savaged by Labour's Diane Abbott at the Commons Treasury select committee, where they clashed on the subject of derivatives.

Ms Abbot believes: "The problem occurs when people wanting to protect themselves against changes in the price of cocoa beans meet those who are more interested in making oodles of spondoola."

The MP was not satisfied with the banker's replies: "She walked into the committee with her expensive suntan and proved quite unable to answer our questions."

Ms Evans admits that the meeting did not go according to plan. "There is something quite disconcerting when they suddenly come at you like that," she confessed.

There is something rather hollow about the advertisement in PR Week promoting the magazine's conference on "the hard commercial edge of PR". The ad is sub-titled Boosting The Bottom Line but the application form gives no indication to cost-conscious PR men of how much the meeting will cost.

The City is witnessing an explosion of rock music talent. For four years Gerry O'Neil, a gilts broker at Kleinwort Benson, has led a band called Swerve through the classic tunes of rock.

Recently he has been joined by the Bullet Blues Band who sing classic blues. And now he also manages a pop group formed of back-office workers called Who Cares? Next weekend the up-and-coming band will be playing at The Marquee - where bands like Genesis and the Rolling Stones first cut their teeth.

Following them are a gaggle of "groupies" from the city who throw off their pin-stripes at the weekends in favour of crushed velvet and gold lame to follow their favourite band.

Hobart House, the headquarters of British Coal for 55 years, is set to be sold off and, in a fitting finale, will be torn down to make way for a more appropriate modern development. British Coal, which owns the lease until 2035, has sold the remaining lease back to the Duke of Westminster's Grosvenor Estate which has appointed an architect for the new building. "It is outside the Belgravia conservation area and is generally regarded as undistinguished," a spokesman for Grosvenor Estate Holdings said.

Neil Clarke, chairman of British Coal, will not be without an office. He leaves in December and the board have graciously held onto the lease until June next year.

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