Business Diary: Repaying the good people of Hartlepool

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The Independent Online

Good to see Lord Mandelson, right, hasn't forgotten his old constituents since leaving the Commons. The former Hartlepool MP's Department of Business offered the French oil giant Total preferential tax treatment to open up two new gas fields in the North Sea. That has lead to a new contract for the steel company Corus, where 350 jobs will now be saved at its factory in Hartlepool, which will build a pipeline for Total.

Tories pulls a fast one on Google

Try sticking Alistair Darling into Google and you'll get a long list of Budget-related sites, but the top sponsored link is rather curious. It is a web page designed by the Conservative Party explaining where the Chancellor is going wrong. The smart folk responsible for marketing at Tory HQ bought up the link in order to have some fun at Mr Darling's expense.

Flying high with an alternative Chancellor

So who would Britons really like to have seen presenting yesterday's Budget? Well, according to a poll conducted by MSN Money, Sir Richard Branson would be the ideal Chancellor, with the great beard polling slightly more votes than Vince Cable and Sir Alan Sugar, above. For the record, George Osborne and Alistair Darling got 8 and 7 per cent of votes respectively.

When money really does buy happiness

Remember the famous Gore Vidal quote: "Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies"? He's not the only one. Research from the University of Warwick shows that earning more money doesn't make people happy, but being richer than your friends very definitely does.

Pepsi's natural drink is certainly sweet

Pepsi has made plenty of noise in recent days about committing itself to producing much greater numbers of more healthy products. And it was kind enough to send Diary a bottle of Pepsi Raw, which boasts no artificial ingredients at all. Still, a single bottle does contain almost 29 grams of sugar – 32 per cent of your daily recommended intake. Not quite so healthy after all.

Number of the day: £160k

Value of Financial Services Authority's art collection, released after a freedom of information request.