CITY DIARY

Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, chief executive at Kingfisher, was taking a break from the media turmoil surrounding the executive re-structuring at the Superdrug to Woolworths group on the VE Day commemoration weekend. Sir Geoffrey was spotted indulging in an aria or two of opera at the Royal Albert Hall. Perhaps Sir Geoffrey can take comfort in the fact that even the world-famous master of opera, Pavarotti, sometimes hits wrong notes - as he did that night, having to re-record as a final encore. Pavarotti even has a personal coach on hand to ensure his timing is right - something no doubt all chief executives wish they could have, too.

Not many senior executives would envy British-born Leslie Hinton, 51, his new position as executive chairman of Rupert Murdoch's News International. On past form, the senior post after Murdoch at News is not a job with long-term prospects.

Mr Hinton, however, is a 35-year veteran of Murdoch's empire. His longevity is considered nothing short of miraculous in a company notorious for sudden sackings.

Plainly, Mr Hinton has strong survival instincts. He was instrumental in the £1.8bn purchase of TV Guide in 1990, which almost brought the Murdoch empire down. "That was his one mistake," a close colleague said. "But he speaks straight, and doesn't just tell Murdoch what he wants to hear."

Having sparkled in the £100m international equity issue for Pakistan Telecom in 1994, Jardine Flemming rightly felt confident of its pitch to lead the privatisation of Pakistan's separate international telecommunications company.

However, it has found itself unceremoniously shaved off even the short list, with the work going to Morgan Grenfell, owned by Deutsche Bank of Germany and doyenne of advice on telecom sales from Peru to Bolivia.

The privatisation is one of the most lucrative opportunities to emerge from Asia this year. Pakistan's government is likely to pay a hefty £5.6m for advice to the consortium led by Morgan Grenfell if the transaction is completed.

Dastardly rumours have circulated about undercutting of fees to nail down the business. Flemming's was staying mum on the matter.

Sabre Fund Management, promoter of offshore investments, has launched itself into the ring of sports sponsorship with a £120,000, three-year deal with the British Amateur Wrestling Association (BAWA). This attracted a parallel award from Sportsmatch, the official Business Sponsorship scheme for drawing new sponsors to sport, bumping the package up to £200,000. The cash will go to a grass roots programme to encourage wrestling for the young. Sabre's chairman Peter Swete feels wrestling is an appropriate skill when dealing with financial markets.

One for the Bank of England. A Gallup survey for the Carpet Council revealed 96 per cent cent of people said they would replace existing carpets with new ones. Furthermore, the survey said an attribute which made carpets popular was that they were 'soft and safe'. One can only assume that carpet in the Bank of England was a different kind of carpet altogether.

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