M&S counting on success after Cantona for Sir Richard the Red

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The Independent Online
Sir Richard Greenbury has always been a Manchester United fan first and chairman of Marks & Spencer second. So how would Sir Dick handle Eric Cantona's shock retirement?

"Cantona was one of the greatest players ever," the chairman tells me, with a catch in his voice. Bravely, he continues: "Earlier this year the papers were saying that Cantona was not as good as he was. Now they're all asking: "How is United going to replace Cantona?"

A number of Mr Greenbury's fellow directors are relieved, however, that the Boss seems to have taken the news reasonably in his stride. One said: "It would be better for all of us if United's success story doesn't falter."

Just so. As Sir Dick puts it: "I'm terrible to live with if we lose."

BZW boss Bill Harrison can comfort himself with the fact that following the recent departure of hordes of analysts from BZW, one group of loyal employees called "the Scottish desk" were moved to hold a "Staying Party." Because they were staying, not leaving.

In another sense they were also leaving - to go to BZW's shiny new offices in Canary Wharf, down Docklands way.

While BZW grapples with staff departures, SBC Warburg strides on ward and upward into the heady realms of snail racing.

David Ruck Keene, a long-time Warburger and currently executive director for equities client development, came first on Monday night in the Fitou "Leadership Steaks" with his thoroughbred mollusc, "Hague".

Fitou, the French wine-making region, held four snail races in central London, including the "Upturned Bottle Handicap", the "Flat Earth Hurdle" and the "Channel Tunnel Sprint." But it was the "Leadership Steaks" which caught the imagination of onlookers, since it included six snails named after the competitors for the Tory leadership.

Sadly, Mr Ruck Keene wasn't there to see the youthful Hague romp to victory. Fitou tell me a good flow of mucus is vital to a snail's pace, while "beer impedes performance." The young snail covered the "Channel Tunnel" course, a scaled down version of Dover to Calais, in 6 minutes, 45 seconds.

Fitou commented: "Lilley came a creditable second and Howard (cautioned for overuse of the whip) a slightly distant third. Dorrell, who had shown early speed, was originally placed third but disqualified by the stewards for interfering with other runners."

"Redwood never left the stalls and Clarke hung too violently to the left, a dietary imbalance being, according to his trainer, a possible problem."

UBS has poached Gregg Sando from Morgan Stanley to head up its European Financial Institutions Group. Mr Sando joins in June and will be joint head of the Group along with Alan Banks.

Mr Sando has been heavily involved in the consolidation of financial companies in the last few years, having advised on the sale of Bristol & West building Society to Bank of Ireland and the acquisition of TSB by Lloyds Bank.

Prior to joining Morgan Stanley Mr Sando, who has a biochemistry degree from Harvard and an MBA from Chicago, spent 12 years at Merrilly Lynch. Looking at his track record, I'm sure Mr Sando will be running his slide rule over the newly converted building societies. What am I bid for the Woolwich?

Its fair to say that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamed, has not always had a happy relationship with this country (don't mention the dam). All the better then to hear that he will address a galaxy of City fund managers and heavyweights this lunchtime in order to drum up investment for Malaysia's "Multimedia Super Corridor".

Although the PM is on holiday for two months, he's taken a break from his relaxations to address people from the likes of Henderson, Gartmore, Hermes, Mercury Asset Management and Schroders.

The reason is simple; the Corridor, which was first announced in 1995, is intended to attract investment and companies from all over the world to Malaysia, in the process creating a world-class cluster of media businesses.

Rupert Pennant-Rea, chairman of Caspian Securities, will be hosting the lunch at Lincoln's Inn. Don't forget to take your cheque book.