Column Eight: Battles of the bottles

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The Independent Online
Signs of a bunfight developing at Simpsons of Cornhill - operator of what are reckoned to be the City's oldest watering holes, Simpsons, in Ball Court, off Cornhill, and the Jamaica Inn.

Directors of the company are awaiting the results of a formal inquiry into a 10 per cent holding acquired by a mysterious company called Mountjoy. Meanwhile, dissident shareholders led by Robert Klapp, the former chairman of Select Appointments who has agreed to buy 20 per cent of the company from the entrepreneur David Rowland, have called an extraordinary general meeting for next Thursday. They want to oust the board on a number of grounds, including the fact that they are based in Nottingham.

The first wind turbine farm on the east coast of Britain is to be constructed and operated by Unigroup, in its first move into 'green' power generation.

The farm at Blood Hills, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, will produce about 6 million KWH of electricity a year from 10 wind turbines, and provide enough power to supply the energy needs of some 1,200 households in the Eastern Electricity area. The more than pounds 2m capital cost of the project is being financed by Robert Fleming.

Don't shed too many tears, but the rich do not seem to be getting any richer. Fortune magazine, in its 1992 ranking of the world's billionaires, said the average wealth of the supremely affluent held at 1991's level of dollars 2.7bn ( pounds 1.42bn), compared with last year's dollars 100m rise.

'Money never goes out of style, but spending it sometimes does,' the magazine's latest edition said, adding that many of the world's richest people 'seem to be cooling it a bit and turning to other pursuits'. For example, the Sultan of Brunei remained the richest person on Fortune's list for the sixth straight year with a hoard worth dollars 37bn. But he showed signs of financial restraint, making three trips to Mecca, where prayer takes priority over his favourite pastime of polo.

Similar restraint is shown by heirs of the Wal-Mart store chain's folksy founder, Sam Walton, who were placed second with a combined fortune worth dollars 24bn, and third-ranked Taikichiro Mori of Japan, who saw his wealth grow by dollars 4bn to dollars 14bn from a year earlier despite Japan's economic difficulties. Although the average wealth on the Fortune list stagnated, the ranks of the wealthiest grew to 233 names this year, from 202 the year before. There were 45 new arrivals, including the rock music magnate David Geffen; 24 of last year's number, including the debt-laden Reichmanns, departed.

Clearly, some among m'learned friends are making great strides in their marketing lessons. The latest edition of The Lawyer carries an advertisement for a house that has high on its list of attributes its proximity to Snaresbrook Crown Court and its ease of access to Chancery Lane. 'Ideal for solicitors/barristers to purchase. Alternatively, will consider letting,' it concludes.

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