Column Eight: Money on the table

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Morgan Stanley, the ultra-sensitive American investment bank, got a nasty shock from the February issue of Institutional Investor. On page 127 is a photograph of Morgan's capital markets chief, Thierry Porte, snapped lounging cheerfully in a chair with his feet plonked firmly on the polished boardroom table.

He looks rather an amiable cove, just the sort of chap to lend you a few million. But the honchos at Morgan's UK headquarters in London Docklands are livid: respectable bankers may have their faults, but they never, ever put their feet on the table.

Fearing the picture might appear again, they have acted swiftly, paying the pictorial equivalent of 'hush money' to the freelance photographer. His original transparencies are now in the hands of the Morgan thought police.

Midland Bank encouraged hundreds of managers over 50 to take early retirement in the go-getting Eighties. But managers in the sober Nineties need wisdom more than energy, and customers like their bank managers grey rather than wet behind the ears.

Brian Pearse, the chief executive, set about re-recruiting the pensioners at a Midland gathering in Bournemouth. Of the 500 present, 25 got in touch, but not one signed up.

It seems their biggest worry was that full-time work would interfere with golf, not to mention bringing back old pressures. Perhaps those early retirement packages were a touch too generous. Midland is now thinking of taking some on part-time.

A trenchant letter appears in this week's Economist, attacking the magazine's view that VAT should be slapped on books, magazines and newspapers. Such a move, say the writers, could kill 1,700 magazines. One of the two signatories is David Gordon, deputy chairman of the Periodical Publishers Association. The same David Gordon who is also group chief executive of the Economist? The same.

Our report from the Hamble that the army is thinking of buying German yachts turns out to be worthless scuttlebutt. An outraged Army Sailing Association says the yachts will be British-built Rustler 36s - as sailed by Princess Anne - and will be based at the British forces' sailing club in Germany.