Business Diary: Heartbreak hotel at the banks

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The Independent Online

More proof, as if it were really needed, of the difficulty that businesses are having getting finance from the banks. One of the London branches of the Money Shop, a chain of pawnbrokers, has just taken delivery of a life-size bronze statue of Elvis Presley. The gentleman parting with his much-loved tribute to the King apparently needs the money to fund the next stage of his entertainment business.

Lunch is for wimps no more

Don't believe a word of it when rich City types justify their pay packets by whingeing on about their long hours. The Wall Street Journal reports that many New York traders have given up working during the middle of the day, on the pretext that market activity around the beginning and end of trading sessions is just too concentrated. The partners of one firm, Briargate Trading, even take the middle of the day out to play tennis, enjoy leisurely lunches, go to the gym or to spend time at their kids' schools. Nice work if you can get it.

An unexpected delivery?

Vince Cable's announcement yesterday that he plans to push ahead with the privatisation of Royal Mail will have surprised no one, with the possible exception of those who heard him speak this week at Darnall Post Office in Sheffield, which has just been saved from closure by a local charity. "I'm going to do everything in my power to support [Post Offices]," he told the locals. Selling off a good chunk of the Royal Mail Group to the private sector will be part of that strategy, then?

Whither next for Wetherspoon?

And finally... The Diary's congratulations to JD Wetherspoon for a decent set of results yesterday. While there had been some scepticism among analysts about the pub chain's decision to open many of its outlets at 7am to sell breakfasts, the move seems to have paid off handsomely, with morning trading really giving sales a lift. Sadly, there is no news yet on whether the pubs group plans to change its name to JD Greasyspoon.