Column Eight: On course for more business

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As mortgage holders wrung their hands in anguish and the press bayed for the opinion of City housing analysts, where was John Wriglesworth of Philips & Drew to be found during yesterday's interest rate dramas?

Watching the gee-gees at Sandown races (although he did moan that he hadn't spotted so much as a fetlock because his mobile telephone was ringing incessantly).

It must, however, have been a more promising day for his host - which turns out to have been a company specialising in selling repossessed properties on behalf of building societies.

Meanwhile, a client of one large merchant bank, speaking from Sweden where businesses are trying to cope with emergency interest rates of 500 per cent, drew vicarious satisfaction from the rise in UK rates. 'Welcome to the banana republic,' it observed smugly.

John Southwell, chairman of the property investment company Helical Bar, must be a contender for the Most Quickly Discredited Forecast prize.

His interim results statement, issued early yesterday, gleefully anticipated a drop in interest rates. This was unusual - many recent statements have tried not to mention interest rates, perhaps hoping they will go away altogether.

Speaking of rental income surplus over interest, he observed: 'This should increase substantially in November with the expiry of the interest swap arrangement and thereafter when interest rates generally start to fall.'

Oh dear.

European crisis, what crisis? The Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank, is bravely forging ahead with a book titled The Future of Pensions in the European Community.

It has found a very apt publisher for the work: Brassey's, part of the empire of that late, great pensions expert, Robert Maxwell.

Commodity dealers, taking a break from frantic trading in sterling and marks, have turned to France's Maastricht treaty referendum instead. IG Index, a City bookmaker that has made a market in the percentage of 'yes' votes in Sunday's poll, said most gamblers seemed to agree that the French will accept the treaty by a narrow margin.

Mind you, most of the customers also work on the financial futures markets. Recent events must surely have warped their brains.