City People

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The Independent Online
THE PUBLISHER of Penthouse,one of Britain's premier pornographic magazines, is floating on Ofex to raise pounds 1m to broadcast erotica on the Internet.

The magazine was founded 35 years ago in Britain, although its current owner is based in New York. The holder of the UK franchise, Lancaster Publications, published its Ofex prospectus yesterday, ahead of hitting the market on 1 September.

The prospectus enthuses: "Sex is an intrinsic need; a basic drive like eating and breathing.

"Throughout history each time man's creative ability produces a new medium, a substantial marketplace builds up rapidly, from erotic art at the dawn of history to the invention of printing and illustration on paper...."

Lancaster reckons the erotic marketplace on the Internet is worth almost pounds 1bn a year.

Lancaster is headed by Andrew Cameron, who was managing director of Express Newspapers until four years ago. Mr Cameron is the managing director and the non-executive chairman is Richard Shail, a chartered accountant.

Philip McLachlan, Express Newspapers' former group financial accountant, is Lancaster's group accountant, while Marcus Daborn, 23, a music graduate from Dartington College, will be general manager as well as contributing "to the artistic and creative content of the magazine".

JOHN CLAMP, the bluff Yorkshireman whose trenchant comments on investment performance made him the scourge of the pinstripe brigade, has unexpectedly stepped down as chief executive of Caps, the investment performance measurement business which he joined just after its launch 15 years ago.

A Caps spokesman said Mr Clamp is leaving to "pursue other interests". Apparently, he finds that the increasingly IT-dominated nature of the business does not make the best use of his talents.

His replacement is Mick Brant, who joined the firm when it was formed in 1984. Asked what Mr Clamp plans to do, Mr Brant said: "I've no idea. I'm sure he's got a number of things in the pipeline."

Caps was formed by three firms of actuaries which are still its main shareholders - William Mercer, Bacon & Woodrow and Watson Wyatt.

I ALWAYS assumed Freemasons swore blood-curdling oaths never to reveal their membership of the secretive organisation. I was wrong. Glasnost reigns.

Iain Bryce, who has just been appointed treasurer of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), actually put his title - deputy grand master of the United Grand Lodge of England - on the press release announcing his appointment.

The retired accountant, whose new role at the RNLI is equivalent to non- executive chairman of the finance committee, said there is "absolutely no hold up" in talking publicly about the Freemasons.

Mr Bryce was a senior partner at Ernst & Young in its Hull office until his retirement five years ago.

Hull was anything but a backwater, he said. "In 1964 we floated Hanson Trust out of Hull. I was in charge of Hanson's audit for the last 12 years at the firm."

TODAY IS the deadline for all companies with profits of more than pounds 1.5m and a 31 December 1999 year-end to submit their first "guesstimate" to the Inland Revenue of what they think their corporate tax liabilities will be under the new self-assessment regime.

By definition, they will have to base their calculations on what they think their profits will be for the whole year, even though we are only part way through.

Sheena Sullivan, tax partner with business advisory firm Pannell Kerr Forster, dismisses the new regime as "bureaucracy gone mad".

Ms Sullivan says: "I have got clients, already overburdened with paperwork, tearing their hair out with frustration over this."

She concludes: "It's like playing Russian Roulette with the tax man loading the gun."

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