The City Diary: A birthday present for HIPs, wrapped in 'purposeless red tape'

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The Independent Online

There were no party hats and balloons colouring government offices last week as the calamitous Home Information Pack (HIP) celebrated its first birthday. The industry is still wishing it could play pass the parcel with this particular gift from government which has been dogged with controversy since its launch on 1st August 2007.

HIPs, which require house sellers to buy and provide a bundle of information when putting their property on the market, was described by Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), as "nothing more than a purposeless piece of red tape". No birthday card from him then.

Le Saux’s taxing run

Football pundit Graeme Le Saux is set to be the first former star of the beautiful game to make a weaving run out of the UK to avoid stringent tax regulation. Le Saux is understood to be making a b-line for the tax haven and footie mecca of Switzerland.

Le Saux, a former England player, is likely to be the first of many retired players who will hang up their boots overseas to rake in the tax benefits. Le Saux, who was abroad when the paper went to press, is sure to take some stick given Switzerland's effort in Euro 2008, but as we're sure he'd say, at least they qualified. As hosts of course!

A risk too far: Barclays refuses to make hay

Barclays Wealth showed this week that its attitude to risk in troubled economic times extends beyond its clients' portfolios after it ditched its branding for a British Masters Invitational show-jumping event at Chester this weekend when two of the women horse riders posed for a racy publicity photo shoot.

The ladies were sprawled on hay bales in their underwear, brandishing whips and pouting for the cameras. Clearly too much horsing around for Barclays.

Cornish crustaceans snapped up by Waitrose

A Cornish family firm has netted a six-figure deal with Waitrose to supply the upmarket supermarket with hand-picked, locally caught crab. Richard Corner and Neville Pittman established Seafood & Eat It in 2002, and will see their business grow by 70 per cent from the deal. The pair are cashing in on Britain’s growing appetite for the snappy crustacean, after sales of crab meat soared by 54 per cent last year, making it an industry worth a whopping £167m. And you thought they just ate pasties in Cornwall.

Dunne deal

Helen Dunne, the former deputy editor of the Financial Mail on Sunday, is now forging a career as a media baroness. She has just bought out CorpComms, the errrr corporate communications industry title that Dunne has edited on a freelance basis for three years, from publishing house Cross Border. Dunne, who was also on the Daily Telegraph City desk for 10 years, has called her new publishing company 'Hardy Media'. Hardy is an amalgam of Dunne's initials and her father's nickname when he was a child.

Boys make their own toys

Hurt by the credit crunch gadget hungry types in London's financial district of Canary Wharf are having to improvise on new boy toys.

A burgeoning fad is the putting of Oyster card chips, used by London's tube travelling public, in their watches. Swiping of watches instead of cards is now increasingly popular.

"Yeah it's the latest thing by all accounts," a ticket inspector tells us. "We're seeing more and more of it."

The Games must go on without the City’s finest

Fancy a trip to the Beijing Olympics? Those pinstriped chaps in the City don't by all accounts.

Insiders tell us that investment banks snapped up corporate tickets for the Games, which start this week, ahead of the onset of the credit crunch last year. But the prospect of a week gasping for air in the smog, unprecedented security as well as a wholly underwhelming showing by Brit athletes has failed to whet the appetite of bored bankers.

"I imagine the secondary market in Olympic tickets could be quite vibrant," says one City boy. "Much more active than the traditional financial markets I bet!"

Moscow’s wealthy head for the gated hills

Here's a new asset class: Russian gated communities. Goldman Sachs has splashed out a cool $300m for a 9.2ha community just 13km from the Kremlin in Moscow. Pokrovsky Hills has 207 luxury townhouses and is prestigious enough that government embassies occupy 20 per cent of the complex. Agent Jones Lang LaSalle has advised sellers AIG European Real Estate Partners and Deutsche Bank Commercial Real Estate Group.