CITY DIARY; Lazards gets on the back of a winner

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The Independent Online
Tally ho! Nicholas Jones, a managing director at Lazards, the merchant bank, is subject to envious comment in the City, and it's nothing to do with mergers and acquisitions. His wife Veronica owns part of a racehorse that has just notched up seven successive victories. Easthorpe is running at the Grand Annual, a two-mile steeplechase at Cheltenham next week. Sounds like a good punt.

The Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, is losing his right-wing conscience. Yesterday David Ruffley, Mr Clarke's principal special adviser, resigned from the Civil Service after being selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Bury St Edmunds, a safe Tory seat. Mr Ruffley, a keen golfer and Manchester United supporter, has served Mr Clarke in various guises since 1991 as a speech writer and political adviser. Last night he said he had never tried to counsel the Chancellor on his infamous rumpled appearance. "He's very strong-willed when it comes to his suits and shoes," Mr Ruffley said. And how did he think his former master was doing in the Ken versus Eddie fight on interest rates? "City sentiment is that the Chancellor is probably rather a good judge of setting monetary policy." Yes, minister.

Forget prawn sandwiches at the agm, here's a shareholder perk worth having. Manganese Bronze Holdings, which makes metal powders and components for the taxi industry, yesterday launched a shareholder discount voucher scheme that will allow investors to get free rides. Shareholders with 200 shares or more (worth about pounds 450) will be entitled to a pounds 5 discount on a journey in its modern, wheelchair-accessible Fairway Taxis. The Fairway was itself launched in 1989 and combines the traditional black cab shape with a modern interior. The drivers in return get pounds 10 in cash to spend at their service agents. Taxi!

Ronnie Frost, executive chairman at Hays, the distribution and business services company, has turned the firm's press briefings into a family affair. At last year's final results Mr Frost addressed the press wearing a bright red tie with teddy bears on it, to make, he explained, his daughter Jane's wedding the previous weekend. Yesterday he gave an update: Jane is expecting a new issue in the shape of identical twins. Analysts will get to find out the gender of the twins at the next finals. Saves putting announcements in the Times, I suppose.

Questionable career moves of our time. Peter Ward resigned the post of chief executive of Rolls-Royce in a huff last year to head up Cunard, the ailing Trafalgar House subsidiary, in order to turn it around. What will he do now that Kvaerner plans to flog off Cunard as soon as it buys Trafs?

Stirring stuff from Ian Lang, President of the Board of Trade, yesterday as he addressed the Japan Society on the subject of deregulation and prosperity. Mr Lang gushed: "We are not just selling computers and cars to Japan, we are also selling replica 1930s Arsenal shirts, Tudor Cottages and ragworms to Japanese anglers!" The balance of payments is in safe hands.

What on earth is John Archer, managing director of Comtec, doing up this telegraph pole? The Cambridge-based communications products distributor may have just been bought by its management team, but this seems an inadequate excuse for such exuberance. Mr Archer is flanked by Geoff Davies of Lloyds Bank and Glen Facer of Comtec on his left, and John Buck of Comtec and Andrew Fraser of 3i on his right. Mr Archer said yesterday that Comtec's ability to offer products in "all three transmission media - fibre optic, copper and radio frequency - combined with a high level of technical support places us in a pre-eminent position in the industry."

Up a pole.

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