'Forget the wallet, get his cuppa', and in broad daylight too

CITY DIARY
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The Independent Online
Finsbury Circus is hardly one of the Square Mile's less salubrious spots. But people might question its safety after a youthful banker was mugged there in broad daylight the other day.

Liam Haywood, a fresh- faced young dealer at a nearby Japanese bank, had nipped out for a cup of tea when he was set upon by two ne'er-do-wells. The robbers had an odd sense of priorities. They didn't steal young Haywood's wallet. But they did nick his tea.

A bit of a bust-up at NatWest Securities where Steve Plag, the top- rated pharmaceuticals analyst has left after a disagreement over strategy. According to NatWest, Mr Plag is now "taking a sabbatical".

Colleagues say he is unlikely to return and is currently holed up at the Edinburgh home from which he used to work a couple of days a week.

His departure will be a loss to the team as Plag regularly topped the Extel rankings. However, it seems the analyst's remuneration package had caused a hint of envy among other NatWest number-crunchers. "It will be a big cost saving," one muttered.

Confusion at Express Newspapers, which was besieged by camera crews yesterday following the MAI merger.

One television crew had clearly been given only scant instructions on finding Lord Hollick of MAI - "can't miss him, the bloke with the beard." They spotted the Express's bearded City reporter, Tony Levene, but the bewildered hack sensed a case of mistaken identity when his views were sought on the future of the merged media giant which he would head. The TV team sensed the same thing when Mr Levene burbled that he had only just heard about it. "I was gobsmacked," he said. "I don't look anything like Lord Hollick."

Bill Rooney, former head of the Spring Ram group, has a new nickname: Des O'Connor. The handle has been dreamed up by colleagues at his Leeds head office who see a resemblance between Mr Rooney and the permanently tanned entertainer.

Mr Rooney's deep, year-round tan is the work of a man committed to his art. It is regularly topped-up on visits to Barbados, where he is building a pounds 25m golf and country club. The club has now sold more than 30 villas - the cheapest a snip at pounds 275,000 and the most expensive weighing in at pounds 8m. Mr Rooney knows a cold snap when he sees one and so has very sensibly jetted out there. Just to monitor progess, you understand.

M'learn'd friends at the Association of Women Barristers have committed a diary faux pax. Or perhaps they just want to stamp on any burgeoning romances among their members. Not only is the group holding its annual dinner on Valentine's Day. But it is charging pounds 55 for the privilege. Education secretary Gillian Shephard is the guest speaker, so no red roses for her, either.

British Gas may have mixed feelings about it but Cedric the Pig has been saved. The 20-stone sow, which shot to fame after it gorged at a trough of cash at the British Gas annual meeting last year, had faced the chop as she was no longer economic. But the pig was granted its own early-retirement package yesterday, at a fraction of the cost of Cedric Brown's.

GMB, the union which hired Cedric from Mudshute City Farm in east London for the meeting, has combined with Mirror Group Newspapers to support the sow for the rest of her natural life. As Cedric is 18 months old, this should be another four to five years. She has also been granted honorary membership of the GMB and will make guest appearances at various union events. Steve Pryle of the GMB pledged: "We will keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed."

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