CITY DIARY : An analysts' note full of sound and fury

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The Independent Online
" 'A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothin' is as colourful if tendentious a summary of our research output as any we have seen recently, although to be fair there are at least two idiots involved." So wrote Philip Middleton and Charles Cade, analysts at Merrill Lynch, in a recent note on Edinburgh Fund Managers' proposed takeover of Dunedin.

Taking Macbeth as their inspiration - "The Scottish Play on fund management?" - the pair quoted: " 'Doth it take away the performance?' Shakespeare's comments here refer to drink rather than fund management, and we believe that the merger should tend to augment performance here."

Then on page four of the note they ask: " 'Stands Scotland where it did?' This has always struck us as a somewhat otiose question, in that it has remained resolutely north of England for some time now." Let's hope the traditional theatrical curse will not fall on the merger now that the Scottish play's name has been invoked.

SBC Warburg continues to lose corporate financiers at a striking rate. Yesterday Nicholas Fry, formerly a senior director in the corporate finance division at SBC Warburg was poached by NatWest Markets to become its head of UK Corporate Finance. On the same day Stella Coulthurst, another director in the same department who had been with SG Warburg since1985, left to join BZW.

Ms Coulthurst was recruited by Mark Seligman, now BZW's joint chief executive corporate finance, and himself a former Warburg director. With the recent defection of another big cheese, Derek Higgs, to Prudential, does this mean that the Warburg corporate finance side is unravelling since the Swiss takeover? "No", retorted an SBC Warburg source yesterday.

While the bank would say nothing officially, the source said that suggestions of unravelling were "a tired, cracked record that stopped before Christmas. There's no exodus or flood. Just the normal flow of joiners and leavers."

A gaggle of economics writers from the national press demonstrated their gratitude to the Treasury's Andrew Hudson on his departure as head of the press office by feting him at London's famous Hungarian restaurant, the Gay Hussar, on Wednesday evening. Mr Hudson sustained his famous discretion till the end, sticking with nothing stronger than a white wine spritzer or two.

The one thing he let slip to the hacks before his departure back to a policy job in the Treasury was the revelation that the press office had had to work hard to persuade Kenneth Clarke not to appear on Fantasy Football.

For the uninitiated, this is the late night television programme on footie with comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. The Chancellor - a Nottingham Forest fan - thought it would help boost his man of the people image. The minders thought our beer-quaffing, panatella-puffing jazz aficionado Chancellor was already man of the people enough.

Bowlers, toppers, felt hats, riding hats, tweed caps, panamas, - Christy, the Stockport-based hat maker, has been turning out such headgear since it was founded in 1773. Yesterday the firm was bought for pounds 3m by Priory Investments, a London-based company founded just six years ago to invest in middle sized businesses. Christy claims it is the only company in the world which still makes the traditional English bowler and top hat, now enjoying a revival following the popularity of Four Weddings and a Funeral. The company is the official supplier of panamas to the British Olympic team this year, and is a great favourite of Geoff Boycott. More recently the company has expanded into the "fashion-led youth market", turning out Mr Men hats and beanie hats, knitted pull-ons and a crushable bowler. How ghastly.