JP Morgan snatches a $1m steak in Harlem


Harlem is in for a rude shock. It is about to be invaded by droves of Wall Street bankers. J P Morgan, the Ivy League institution, is taking a stake in Sylvia's, the famous soul food restaurant in the heart of the dangerous New York neighbourhood.

The bank and two other investors will pump in more than $1m to help promote Sylvia's flagging sauce and spice products business. Morgan believes that a paltry $1m annual turnover could go as high as $100m.

The colourful restaurant is about the only place in Harlem where a banker would be seen alive. It grew from a handful of seats to a 500-table tourist attraction. But the food products sideline, launched in 1992, has not taken off.

"There is an untapped market out there and this product has name recognition,'' intones Nancy Ylvisaker, president of the bank's community development arm. Whether staff will be lunching in Harlem is not revealed.

They will be learning Gospel singing next.

Expect some glowing research on HP Bulmer in the not-too-distant future. The cider-maker, which reported half-year figures yesterday, took the precaution of dispatching a crate of its hooch to every relevant City analyst last week. For research purposes only, you understand.

Further fuel for thought on the matter of the Brazilian electricity privatisation.

You will recall that the City was not exactly beating a path to the door of Garantia, the Brazilian brokers, because of the notorious "dead cat problem'' - a graphic term for the high level of unauthorised tapping to which the system is prone. Impoverished Sao Paulo residents are in the habit of clipping on their personal jump leads to overhead power cables when they need to turn the lights on. To do that they need to short-circuit the system (and that is where the doomed stray cat comes in).

We now discover that the potential for loss of revenue is even greater. In fact Sao Paulo residents are but amateurs compared with the sophisticated power thieves of the Orient.

Take Hong Kong, for example. Not only does half the population own a personal pair of crocodile clips, but there is also a thriving market in stolen electricity. Gangs bleed off gigajoules of power, according to one industry source, and sell it through the warrens of flats.

And the rates are very competitive. If you buy illegal power you do not pay by the unit. The criminals charge a flat fee no matter how much power you use - one rate for, say, a fridge and another for a television.

In the UK, of course, we have been more concerned with the fat cat problem than the dead one.

Among the helpful tips on sensible eating this Christmas comes advice from Air Miles on what to do if a business lunch goes horribly wrong - think of something witty. It recalls the incident of a businessman who dropped a wine glass on to his fork, which happened to be wedged under his fillet steak at the time. The steak was catapulted across the table and landed on the plate of an important client.

"Why don't you try some?'' inquired the businessman.

The Granada bid for Forte may have to be abandoned. The 1904 trust deed governing the Council of Forte (and giving the guardians of temperance 50 per cent of the votes for less than 0.1 per cent of the shares) is an impenetrable document. But it appears to decree that the council must hold the capital and income of the trust fund "until the expiration of 20 years from the death of the last survivor of the issue of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria living at the date of the principal deed''.

Mmm. A leaf through Burke's Peerage appears to be in order.

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