CITY DIARY

Calling all readers with inspiration. Allied Domecq, owner of the Firkin chain of pubs, is in need of some new names with which to christen its watering holes.

Allied is already the proud owner of 53 suitably F prefixed Firkin pubs. It plans to open more, but has run out of suitable adjuncts.

Traditionally the pub's names are related to the building or environment in which they are found - for example the Flower & Firkin in Kew; the Phoenix & Firkin (once a burnt out railway station) and the Font & Firkin in Brighton which was formerly a chapel.

Brainwaves and bon mots can be faxed to 0171 293 2098 or 2096. A spokesman for Allied was not sure at this early stage what the prize would be, but assured me it would be effing good.

Paddy Linaker, chairman of Fisons, found himself in the firing line at the company's annual meeting yesterday.

The decision to sell most of its research and development facilities for £200m - even though the company intends to focus increasingly on its pharmaceuticals business - brought an incredulous reaction from a shareholder who found it hard to believe in a pharmaceuticals company without an R&D department. Linaker maintained that Fisons would widen its product range through licensing and other forms of collaborative arrangements.

The shareholder likened the move to the proprietor of an expensive restaurant selling the kitchen and buying the food from a local take away.

John Brock jumps into the chairman's seat of the newly restructured Cadbury Beverages North America. The company has also changed its name to Dr Pepper/Cadbury North America following the acquisition of the Dr Pepper and Seven-Up soft drink operation for $1.7bn.

Brock, who played a key role in the acquisition as president of the orginal company, will now take responsibility for the whole of the North American soft drinks operations which include the brands Canada Dry, Sunkist and Tetleys.

The combined group now has 17 per cent of the US soft-drinks market and makes Cadbury Schweppes the world's biggest non-cola drinks giant.

The bank that likes to say yes, the TSB, has just completed a little known acquisition - a number plate for £9,000.

The buyer, who found the number YES1 too much to resist, had to compete for the plate with Rick Wakeman, the former keyboard player of the 1970's band Yes. Wakeman eventually turned down the opportunity to own the plate on the grounds that "it might attract too much attention".

This disappointed the vendor, Surrey builder Mark Norman, whose enthusiasm for the rock group prompted the purchase in the first place.

A spokesman for TSB was in the dark as to whose car the plate was to adorn and none of the directors will own up.

The boom in venture capital has led the British Venture Capital Association to appoint it's first director general: Stephen Hall, most recently finance director of Lloyd's of London.

According to Hall, the growth of venture capital in the UK £2.1bn invested in 1,208 businesses in 1994 alone - has rather over-stretched the annually appointed chairman the association got by with before. Hall will provide continuity and consistency.

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