Column Eight: Hold on tight to that bond

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The Independent Online
Leafing through Handelsblatt, the German financial newspaper, we spot a surprising advertisement. James Capel is offering to buy the bonds and bank debt of Polly Peck, Maxwell Communication and Heron from any unfortunates holding them.

In Germany, unlike the UK and US, banks and stock exchanges do not allow trading in the debt of troubled and collapsed companies. Hence the placing instead of small ads by potential buyers. Alas: 'We've had more inquiries from the press than potential sellers,' says Paul Curtis-Heywood, head of Capel's corporate bonds department.

Happy Families, the old card game, has been updated by Waddington for a charity Christmas edition. Out goes Mr Bun the Baker and in comes Mr Greed depicted by Robert Maxwell himself. Would this have happened, you may ask, had Cap'n Bob's efforts to buy Waddington succeeded?

The world of nylon sports shirts shuddered yesterday when Umbro Europe, which makes the England football strip, said it was axing 170 jobs and closing three factories.

In June, the firm agreed to pay Manchester United pounds 9.6m over six years. Fans will be relieved to hear the deal should be unaffected. The downside? Only that the rebuilt Stretford End will indeed be named - urrgh - the 'Umbro Stand'.

Rapport, the magazine for Peugeot owners, praises weekends spent in the baron (sic) landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. But motorists should beware. A good many places recommended by Rapport are spelt wrongly (although prospective visitors to 'Astrigg', the home of James Heriot, will probably work out that they should follow the signs to Askrigg).

'Lonistre', however, has stumped even the most long- lived Dalesmen. It sounds distinctly French - but that's no excuse since the magazine is put together in Coventry.

The resignation of Peter Woods, general practitioner turned corporate affairs director of Fisons, comes after a year spent struggling with the disasters that have befallen the company. These include the resignation of the chairman and chief executive and a profits warning. The only upheaval not yet experienced, to the regret of some shareholders desperate to cut their losses, is a takeover bid.

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