City Diary: Prepare to jockey in the executive sweepstakes

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The Independent Online
Jockeys hold the key to executive pay - it's official. Academics at the London School of Economics have been trying to figure out the best way to incentivise chief executives. First they decided that a payment system should reward success handsomely and that the threat of dismissal for poor performance should be real. They then researched an occupation where these underlying principles are fulfilled - jockeys. In a comprehensive 40-page survey of British jockeys, races and prize money, Sue Fernie and Professor David Metcalf found that racehorse owners did much better by paying jockeys for wins, rather than paying them a flat retainer fee for the season. The pair also found that when the likes of Willie Carson and Frankie Dettori win 10 per cent more races per season, they get paid an average pounds 10,000 extra per year. Mega-rich owners that retain star jockeys with fees of up to pounds 1m a year get a poor deal, they find. Ladies and gentlemen, please prepare to weigh in ...

Sir Colin Marshall may be just hours into the presidency of the Confederation of British Industry but he is already feeling the heat. The CBI has always theoretically been above party politics. Members were struck then when the chairman of British Airways thanked John Major for his after-dinner speech to the CBI, saying that he hoped the Prime Minister would be back in the same capacity in two years' time to address them again, at the end of Sir Colin's tenure. The new president passes off this gaffe, saying it was "politeness to a guest. I felt it was not an unreasonable gesture." Sir Colin has been even-handed with his political gestures so far - he included his name in the recent pro-Tory pamphlet of industrialists, and then said companies should not make political donations. Watch out for turbulence ahead.

Executives at Sunderland-based Vaux Breweries are desperately trying to defuse a row which has split the North Yorkshire market town of Thirsk. The brewery, under chairman Sir Paul Nicholson, has just completed a three-month refurbishment of a popular local pub, the Red Bear. The tenant wants to rename it the Darrowby Inn after the fictional name given the town by vet Alf Wight (aka James Herriot) in the much-televised All Creatures Great and Small novels.

The name change - scheduled for next Monday when the pub reopens for business - is fine by Vaux, Mr Wight's son and many others but has aroused the displeasure of the town council whose new mayor, Jan Marshall, says: "There is a lot of respect for Mr Wight in Thirsk and we are anxious that no-one cashes in on his name. We don't want the town turned into a kind of James Herriot Disneyland."

Vaux spokeswoman Hilary Florek is unmoved: "We're talking to everyone involved to try to resolve this as soon as possible. The last thing we want is to cause a row in the town but the tenant is still keen for the name change to go ahead - and we have the new signs ready and waiting to go up."

A team of Lloyd's of London executives touring California to persuade US names to back the Lloyd's rescue package are reeling from a forger who has sent letters to hundreds of investors saying all the meetings are cancelled due to "lack of interest". John Stace, deputy chairman of Lloyd's, is leading the group in an effort to drum up support for the settlement. He has won acceptances from hundreds of US names, which is impressive considering that, until recently, outstanding court actions against Lloyd's prevented it even talking to American members. Now someone has got hold of headed note paper from the perfectly legitimate Association of Lloyd's Members, and has written to names saying all the meetings have been scrapped. Lloyd's have contacted the Californian police, who are investigating. Meanwhile Mr Stace ploughs on.

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