CITY DIARY : Saunders junior gets into an exclusive roll

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The Independent Online
Good to see our old friend James Saunders catapulted back into the limelight, this time as ball selector in the live draw for the fourth round of football's Coca-Cola Cup. The bleary-eyed son of the former Guinness chief (we are talking GMTV) has landed a job as a brand manager for the drinks giant after being turned down for a senior marketing position at Britvic last year.

Ball selection is just one of the little chores that face Coke brand managers under an exclusive deal between the company and the TV station. And while announcing the whereabouts of future football matches is not everyone's idea of a fun time, it is preferable to watching your father tried for fraud.

More alarmingly, James' career is proving to be a replica of his father's Observers of the family point out that Ernest Saunders started out with the ad agency J Walter Thompson before becoming a brand manager at Beecham. From there it was to Nestle and Guinness before a stint at Her Majesty's pleasure and a bout of Alzheimer's.

Saunders junior used to work at the Lowe Howard Spink agency (Frank Lowe testified for his father) and has now gone into consumer brand management.

Should he become a chief executive in the future we would urge extreme caution during any takeovers.

Like the best election campaigns there are signs that the hostile bid for Country Casuals, the women's clothing retailer, will avoid the issues and concentrate on the personalities. The Casual board (no slur intended) yesterday claimed that John Shannon, the former chairman and chief executive who is bidding pounds 26m, keeps shopping in its stores and asking for staff discounts - even though he left last year

"Rubbish,'' retorts Mr Shannon, adding that he has not bought any women's clothing or asked for staff discounts. "I merely asked why the 15 per cent discount for shareholders had been withdrawn since I left." Well, he does own 18.8 per cent.

One is eternally grateful to Ventures, "the dynamic business magazine for entrepreneurs'' for divulging the secret business strategy of Barry Hearn. You will not be surprised to learn that the East London promoter, now grappling with his conscience over the ethics of a significant part of his turnover, can sum it up just three words - go for it.

Those hoping for a more detailed analysis will be disappointed. But what is there to add about selling 36 hours of live fishing to Sky TV?

"Can you imagine six hours a day for six days of live fishing?" inquires Mr Hearn. "Six hours of watching a float bob up and down on the water? Yeah, that's my idea. Sensational, innit?''

A blinder.

Hackney dog track has pulled up lame with the vets from Price Waterhouse in attendance. London Stadium Hackney, Europe's premier greyhound and speedway venue, has a capacity of 3,000 and state-of-the-art tracks. But it is now in receivership, unable to carry the massive cost of the refurbishment needed to make it the best.

Concerned that it is getting taken to the cleaners every time it steps into court, the Serious Fraud Office yesterday hit the recruitment trail. The view that you cannot take on serious fraud investigations with a handful of badly paid lawyers has finally prevailed and the SFO is offering pounds 42,868 for financial investigators.

With its only resounding success under appeal (the Guinness trial), the SFO can afford to be generous. And this looks interesting work. "You will be involved in the process of obtaining documents,'' warns an advertisement in the national press, ''either by voluntary surrender, use of powers under the Criminal Justice Act or assisting in the seizure of such documents.''