CITY DIARY

You know when times are tough among the sheikhs of Saudi Arabia when the consumption of gold in the oil state crashes from 200 tonnes a year to just 174 tonnes.

However, the jewellers in the bustling souk in Riyadh have thought of an ingenious marketing ploy. They are selling gold statuettes of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles to the avaricious sons and daughters of the nation's many princes.

The idea has prompted a craze and already sales of the expensive toys have used up 300 kilograms of gold. Traders have been even more pleased with the associated sales of jewellery and trinkets to mothers idling in the jewellery stores waiting for their children to make their minds up. These sales have amounted to 3.4 tonnes. "It has been a great success," says Helen Junz of the World Gold Council.

Quilter Goodison, the posh private client broker, is set to lose three of its top people. Nigel Lloyd, Richard Legge and John Nicholas have been wooed by Laing & Cruickshank investment management.

The loss is a further blow for Quilter Goodison, where staff are said to be chafing under the yoke of Commercial Union. I hear that as negotiations between Laings and Lloyd reached their climax the rugby-mad broker was finally seduced by the offer of two tickets to the World Cup final in South Africa. "After that, it was all over," said a source.

One of Mayfair's largest houses is up for sale by Lord Francis Russell, son of the Duke of Bedford and estate agent to the country's richest homebuilders. 20 Park Street has six storeys and six bedroom suites covering 8,500 square feet and is likely to fetch more than pounds 4m.

The property is typical of the type sold by the old Etonian, whose varied career has included a degree in land management at the University of East London and a period with Jones Lang Wooton. The sale of the house will make a welcome bonanza for the motorcycle-riding toff, who has recently become engaged to be married.

A City quiz evening on behalf of Bacup, the cancer-relief charity, at the Brewery earlier this week saw the Barclays de Zoete Wedd team knocked off the top of the ladder. The team was led by Geoffrey Guinness, the head of risk audit, who had led teams to victory for two consecutive years.

Winners of the competition were Stephenson Harwood, the City solicitors.

The competition did not go according to plan for the generous sponsors, Reuters and London Talk Radio. The radio station failed to shine despite fielding a ringer in the form of Fred Housego, the former taxi driver who won Mastermind and now fronts a radio show.

Reuters did worse. Their team came last, though they claim they deliberately under-performed to claim the bottle of champagne accompanying the wooden spoon.

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