City Diary: Warburg kicks the ball around with bets on euro

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The Independent Online
Economists at SBC Warburg have clearly had a bit of time on their hands recently. They have turned their thoughts to the impending European football championships, weaving in a dash of political and economic comment on all the participating nations. It is all neatly packaged in the bank's newly published Euro'96 Special.

But using a deft piece of footwork even Gazza would be proud of, it has used the football tournament as a metaphor for monetary union, pondering the chances of the various countries achieving the criteria for monetary union by 1999. England comes bottom with a 10 per cent chance (jointly with Greece) while Germany is seen as the most likely with a 90 per cent probability.

As for the footie, the economists are tipping Spain to beat the Netherlands in the final with England reaching the quarter-final stages. Rather disloyally they reckon Switzerland won't make it past the preliminary stages.

Tony Knox, the chairman of City PR firm Financial Dynamics, is recovering at home after a triple by-pass heart operation. Mr Knox, 50, went into hospital last Wednesday and is expected to be away from City spin-doctoring for three to four weeks. The operation comes as a surprise to many who know Tony as a fit fellow who regularly works out and wields a mean racket on the tennis court. FD says "he's fine and making a good recovery."

Meanwhile, the company is on the verge of signing a deal with its French majority shareholder which will see the French company buy out the directors who own 35 per cent of the company. It will then introduce a scheme that will distribute the company's shares more widely among the staff. In other words, wonga all round.

Yorkshire Water, the company that would struggle to run a bath even if it did have any water, has a fresh set of problems to contend with. It is being blamed for a decline in local tourism. The reason is that holidaymakers have been shying away from the region for fear that local hotels and guesthouses will be affected by water restrictions. "They don't want to find themselves bathing in a bucket," one local said.

Sir Desmond Pitcher of United Utilities is well known for his confidence in his own abilities. He has now taken to making up new words. In the company's results presentation yesterday he referred to the country's "abordinary" weather conditions over the last year. Does he mean abnormal, or extra-ordinary? Or both?

Maria Reinshagen (pictured right) was named as vice-chairman of Christie's Europe yesterday. The appointment makes her the most senior woman in the auction house's European operations. The promotion is the Swiss businesswoman's second barrier-breaking appointment. In 1994 she was the first woman to be appointed to the board of UBS.

Ms. Reinshagen is described as "an effective business-getter" and has been running Christie's office in Zurich. In her 18 years with the company she has been involved in several record-breaking sales. In 1990, one of her clients narrowly missed out in the bidding for the Van Gogh portrait of his physician, Dr Gachet. At $82m it remains the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.

Ms Reinshagen was one of three vice-chairmen announced by Christie's yesterday. The others are Francois Curiel and John Lumley.