Business Diary: 02/03/2010

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The Independent Online

The salesmen that dare not speak their names

Sales is a dirty word. In breaking news, the Institute of Sales Promotion announces it is changing its name to the Institute of Promotional Marketing. "This better represents the wide range of marketing and communications activities the Institute's members do," reckons its chairman, Clive Mishon.

Step into the parlour, said the spider

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. The new EU financial affairs commissioner, Michel Barnier, is in London today for a breakfast meeting with about 15 big cheeses from hedge funds and private equity firms. City conspiracy theorists say the debonair former Gaullist is part of a French plot to attack the UK's financial services sector. Will the croissants be flying?

Office work can be dirty too

If you're reading this while enjoying a sandwich at your desk, reach for the anti-bacterial wipes now. Microban, a small company which (surprise, surprise) specialises in clean-up stuff, has published research showing that the "office environment is a hot-spot for the cross-contamination of germs and bacteria". Apparently, the average desk surface has 400 times more germs than a toilet seat. Yuck.

From 'two brains' to 'three jobs'

David Willetts, the shadow Secretary of State for Universities and Skills, has long been known as "two brains" because of his intellectual prowess. But maybe his new nickname should be "three jobs"? The National Association of Pension Funds says it is delighted that Mr Willetts will speak at its forthcoming investment conference, and describes him as "a thinker, author and politician".

Price sites battle for hearts and minds

A challenge at last for the meerkats who did such wonders for the profile of Rival comparison site claims the star of its TV advertising, Gio Compario ("the larger than life opera-singing character", in case you've missed him) has generated 20 per cent extra traffic. Now the pressure is on the star of's campaign, the comedian Omid Djalili.

Number of the day: £1.13m

The salary of Sir Stuart Rose, chairman of Marks & Spencer. Shareholders may push for a reduction in his pay