Hollinger stock rated worthy of a tsar

City Diary

Bonds issued by Hollinger, Conrad Black's holding company which owns the Daily Telegraph, have been dubbed "Imperial Russian Railway Bonds" by some of the more cynical staff. The bonds were issued to holders of Hollinger's shares or options in order to mitigate capital gains tax liability on the shares over a five-year term. Apparently certain employees are sceptical that the pounds 1 loan stock, which pays 1 per cent under the London inter-bank rate, Libor, are the best answer to the CGT problem when their shares are compulsorily acquired by Conrad Black. The bonds are not marketable and some staff feel they aren't generous in interest terms. Hence the comparison with the tsarist railway shares.

The drama at last Saturday's Pilkington Cup Final between rugby champions Bath and Leicester could be put in the shade today as the old amateur barriers to inter-club transfers are abandoned. With the arrival of full- blooded professionalism, clubs will be able to bid for players just like their football counterparts, with a mere seven-day qualification period for the players concerned. Richmond of the Third Division will today announce a series of big money signings, which will almost certainly include Bath's Ben Clarke. The arrival of City entrepreneurs such as Nigel Wray at Saracens signals a new era where money will call the tune - if it didn't already. There could be plenty of stock market action ahead as well, with both Wasps and Bath preparing to float on AIM. I can't see the likes of Giggs and Cantona losing out, however, in the glamour stakes to Dean Richards.

Conclusive proof, if it were needed, that commercial property agents are a lot sharper than accountants. Just a week after KPMG and the other leading accountancy firms were vilified for offering seminars on how to beat a Labour government's tax rises, the surveyors Hillier Parker have done the opposite. According to Hillier Parker's research paper, Property under a Labour Government, published this week, property will win whatever Tony Blair does in office. Labour will boost demand for office space, increase consumer spending and improve rental growth, according to Estates Gazette magazine. The property mag paints a positively glowing picture of a Labour government investing heavily in infrastructure and urban renewal. So if Tony does pull it off, it looks like the surveyors will be in clover and the accountants out in the cold. What a shame.

In the great tradition of Hello! magazine, the Diary is delighted to report that gorgeous, pouting PR hackette Emma Weiss, spokesperson for the Association of Unit Trust and Investment Funds, has just enjoyed a hen weekend in Budapest with 17 pals. Husband-to-be, the Evening Standard's personal finance guru Robert Cole, is having his own stag night next weekend. His own arrangements have been left to the last minute, apparently - Robert gave pounds 100 to his best man and told him to get on with it. Which won't get them very close to Budapest, so it sounds like lagers all round in the local then.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, is being forced to retire due to cancer, but this did not stop him from playing in a music concert at the Middle Temple last Thursday night. Peter Taylor played the piano for an hour, accompanied by the violinist Maureen Smith. The well- attended recital was in aid of the Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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