Gas suppliers in hot competition for women with cats

People & Business
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A risibly named conference in Stratford upon Avon this week titled "Where Are The Utilities Going?" (around the bend, perhaps) has thrown up a fascinating fact: gas suppliers are targeting single working females with cats.

According to Tom Porter of Oracle, speaking to the 300-strong audience, this is because "statistics prove that they leave the central heating on to keep the house warm for when the cat comes in during the day".

There was also quite a lot of heat generated by other speakers during the three-day affair. One regional electricity company delegate observed a common theme running at utilities conferences: "In the morning, the City types castigate us for investing in deals which they invariably advised us on in the first place.

"Then in the afternoon on come the anoraks, who tell us to forget investment appraisal altogether as 'none of that stuff' applies to the bright new technologies."

Alan Hunter, a stockbroker who celebrated his 65th birthday last Saturday, is having no fewer than three celebrations to mark his retirement from Williams de Broe. Well, if you've spent 51 years working in the City you might as well go out in style. Last Friday Alan, who runs the nominee side of things, took colleagues out for a drink at Corney & Barrow in Broadgate. The bar allows customers celebrating their birthday a discount on a bottle of champers, so Alan got 65 per cent off for magnum for his mates.

Then on Monday he held a thrash for mostly retired City colleagues and friends at the Mosaic Bar in the Long Room of the Throgmorton Restaurant, opposite the Stock Exchange. Finally, tonight Williams de Broe will hold a formal leaving do.

Then Alan's off travelling for six weeks to "Montana and other far-off places", a colleague of his tells me. When he returns it won't all be cultivating the roses. Alan and his wife run a market stall in north London, mainly selling stationery.

Labour's imminent election landslide may be threatened by that most dreaded of political phenomena - apathy. According to the The Lawyer magazine this week, "An ambitious Labour Party initiative to raise pounds 100,000 from a series of seminars for City lawyers featuring members of its front bench had to be cancelled due to lack of interest."

Oh dear. Perhaps Labour's much-vaunted prawn cocktail offensive in the City to persuade business that Labour really has changed hasn't worked after all.

The proposed shindig was launched last December by the Society of Labour Lawyers and a list of speakers drawn up, including Robin Cook, shadow foreign secretary, and Alistair Darling, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

Perhaps City lawyers simply weren't too thrilled by the prospect of being droned at by Messrs Cook and Darling. As Labour points out, a fund-raising dinner earlier this month featuring around 100 City lawyers paying pounds 500 was a big success. That dinner, however, starred those noted crowd pullers Tony Blair and Cherie Booth QC.

Kenny Dalglish the Newcastle United manager and Jim Kerr, singer with Simple Minds, are helping to form a new management company based in Glasgow which aims to stop young sportspeople and musicians falling foul of the pitfalls of business.

The stars are joining Ronnie Ludwig, managing partner of the Edinburgh office of accountancy firm Moores Rowland, to launch the Catherine Robertson Organisation.

The company will advise youngsters about contracts, sponsorship, tax and financial planning. It will be run by Catherine Robertson, a football agent who believes there are similarities between the worlds of sport and music.