Business Diary: Hester's civil service friends show the way

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The Independent Online

Was Stephen Hester expecting a rough ride from journalists or the public on arrival at yesterday's Treasury Select Committee hearing? If so, the RBS boss has discovered that working for the Government does have some advantages – with the help of staff at the Commons, Mr Hester was ushered in through a back entrance to the committee room, thereby avoiding the crowds.

The quiet man is here to stay

By the way, what is it about Stephen Hester's voice? He seems to be trying to impersonate Radio Two's "whispering" Bob Harris. Is this an attempt to sound like the voice of sweet reason after all the stomping and shouting of recent months?

Bookmakers never miss a market

Rival bookie Bodog is first out of the stalls with odds on who's going to be the next top dog at Ladbrokes. Ladbrokes' e-gaming chief John O'Reilly is odds-on favourite at 4/6, followed by finance director Brian Wallace (3-1), with Richard Ames (head of UK betting shops) at 4-1. But we reckon Wilf Walsh – the ex-Coral MD now warming the hot seat at "Racing for Change" is a decent dark horse at 8-1.

Mumbai traders need their beauty sleep

We're not saying Mumbai's stockbrokers are a lazy bunch, but what other conclusion is there to draw from the backlash against plans just announced by the Bombay Stock Exchange? It wants to start trading at 9am, rather than the current 9.55am, but has been met with furious protests from local traders. A market opportunity for an entrepreneurial type with an alarm clock, we reckon.

Barclaycard is in love with its own campaign

The folk at Barclaycard sure do talk themselves up. Their new advert, which follows that one where a bloke goes out for lunch via a waterslide, is "the much anticipated sequel" it announces. "The fast and exhilarating 60-second rollercoaster ride brings to life Barclaycard's mission of making its customers' lives easier," you see. We can hardly wait for its debut.

Number of the day: 45%

The collapse in the share price of Japan Airlines yesterday, amid growing fears it is heading for bankruptcy.