Business Diary: Posh chaps see Cooper's claws

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The Independent Online

Louise Cooper, the new markets commentator at BGC Partners, tells us how excited she was to be asked, for the first time, to appear on BBC2's Newsnight on Tuesday evening. But also a little daunted, apparently. "There I was, lined up with Jeremy Paxman (Charterhouse School, Cambridge), former chancellor Norman Lamont, Baron Lamont of Lerwick (Loretto School, Cambridge), and the FT's chief economics writer, Martin Wolf (University College School, Oxford), feeling my Alma Mater (Yateley comprehensive) would be so proud of me," Cooper says. To level the playing field, she "wore a leopard-print shirt and big heels", only to discover that "despite a network of contacts not available from my education, all three alpha males seemed pretty ignorant of the fact that Europe's banking system is teetering on a precipice". Naturally, she put them right.

Grease lightening at Bombardier

Good news at last for Bombardier, the Canadian company that makes trains in Derby. As we know, it has just lost out to Siemens on the contract to build new Thameslink trains, putting the Derby plant at risk. But we hear another big Government tender is to be announced soon and this time Bombardier has a secret wepon up its sleeve: it's signed up John Travolta as a brand ambassador. Beat that, Siemens.

Lord Levene's big day is spoilt

We're admirers of Lord Levene, the chairman of Lloyd's of London, but we can't help feeling the insurance market has chosen an odd moment to announce it is awarding him one of its prestigious Gold Medals. The award, for services to Lloyd's, is rarely given (the last recipient was Sir David Rowland, who got it having steered the market through a period during which it almost collapsed). No doubt it is deserved – but didn't Lloyd's announce its first interim loss in history yesterday after a bloody six months for the insurance industry?

Party time over for indebted Italy

And finally... Market wags tell us credit rating agencies have come up with a new way to express their worries about the indebtedness of Italy, notwithstanding the objections of Silvio Berlusconi. They've downgraded the country's rating from bunga bunga to just bunga.