Business Diary: French farms minister is one to watch closely

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The Independent Online

The Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, was placatory yesterday about the appointment of Michel Barnier as the EU commissioner with responsibility for financial services. But relations between the two obviously haven't always been smooth. "I worked very closely with Michel when he was French agriculture minister," Lord Mandelson said. "In fact I never took my eyes off him."

Digital investment is now worth zero

Good effort from Guardian News and Media, whose latest accounts reveal that it spent £4m buying ContentNext Media in July 2008, further evidence of The Guardian publisher's obsession with digital. What it's worth now, less than 18 months later? Not a penny, those accounts reveal.

Our man on the foreign omnibus

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has a rule about appointing ambassadors to European states: they must speak the local language. "They need to be able to understand what local people are saying on the bus," Mr Miliband said yesterday. Diplomatic postings are obviously not what they were if you don't even get a chauffeur-driven motor these days.

Recession? See it as a time of opportunity

Feeling gloomy this cold January? Why not get in touch with Richard Bandler, the self-professed "neuro-linguistic programming" expert. We don't know what it means either, but the great man is urging us to adopt a glass half-full approach. "Far from seeing the recession as all doom and gloom, Richard believes that these times of crisis could prove a fantastic opportunity, given the right mental approach," his people tell us. After all, "the Great Depression made millionaires of Rockefeller and the Kennedys". And saw suicide rates rocket too, but let's look past that.

Fine wines kept their sparkle in the crisis

It was another bumper year for fine wines last year, it seems, with the Liv-ex 100 index of the value of posh vintages. Obviously, those bankers weren't feeling the pinch after all, even before this month's bumper bonuses arrive.

Number of the day: £260m

The value of additional cold weather payments distributed to vulnerable families and pensioners this month.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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