Flirt outrageously and watch productivity soar

City Diary

Vienna is to host the world's first flirt-for-profit seminar.

Psychologist Brigitte Boesenkopf tells The European that flirting should be "a vital part of any healthy company, increasing productivity and sales and improving the social climate and customer relations."

Even for Freud's home city, this sounds pretty off the wall. Respectable Austrian businesses are keen though. Those signing up for the seminar include Raiffeisen Bank and the Bundeslander Insurance Company.

Ms Boesenkopf says: "My seminars analyse for the first time the connection between flirting and economic strategies for success. Well-aimed flirt behaviour is one of the best tools for communications at work. Up to now a flirt was seen as a taboo in business life. This is a mistake.

"Due to spatial proximity, people automatically make contact. The well- being at your job to a large extent depends on whether these contacts are satisfying."

The seminar has provoked much protest in Austria, but Ms Boesenkopf denies she is defending sexual harassment. Even so, I think it will be some time before the likes of ICI and Lloyds TSB start promoting office love-ins.

Barclays Bank is offering "crack" to students.

Not the drug, I hasten to add. Barclays is running a student competition in which the top five winners will each get pounds 2,500. The press release says: "Students can enter by picking up a 'crack and reveal' card from Barclays stands at Freshers Fairs throughout the country."

Whatever next? Scratch 'n' Sniff cards?

Where the fall-out from the Barings saga is concerned, the Securities and Futures Association (SFA) is taking no chances. Ron Baker, the former Barings director, is appealing against the SFA's finding that he shares some responsibility for the Leeson fiasco which broke the bank.

Now the SFA has retained Presiley Baxendale, the barrister who came to prominence in the arms-to-Iraq investigation, to head the case against Mr Baker.

Mr Baker will need a deep pocket indeed to appoint an equally distinguished barrister for the SFA's tribunal hearing in the autumn.

Eddie George has allowed the finals of the latest UK Monopoly championship to be played in the Bank of England's own hallowed halls, with real money supplied by the Bank. Before an outraged Ken Clarke gets on the phone to complain about property speculation at the taxpayers' expense, I should point out that the pounds 1,500 handed to each of the six finalists was returned at the close of play last night.

Three chaps from Lloyds Bank acted as bankers for the games. The finals will be completed today in the House of Commons.

Patrick O'Reilly, the personable stockbroker, has left Panmure Gordon to join rival brokers Charterhouse, and one Panmures client which he floated in 1985 has followed him. The pounds 350m plastic pipe maker Polypipe has switched to Charterhouse because of the company's admiration for Mr O'Reilly, says Polypipe chairman Kevin McDonald.

Germs beware. Vernon Sankey, Reckitt & Colman's chief executive, is pleased to announce that the company's most recent brand acquisition, a disinfectant called Pif Paf, is the market leader in the Middle East, number two in China, and top in Kenya and West Africa.

John Jackson, chairman of Ladbroke, has issued an open invitation to journalists - and readers - to design a new Hilton logo. With the imminent reunification of the American side, Hilton Corporation (top logo), with Ladbroke's UK side, Hilton International (bottom), a new global corporate identity is needed. Who knows, with the kind of money people like Shell and BT pay out for new logos, you could strike lucky.

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