Now Barings tries its hand in South Korea

CITY DIARY
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The Independent Online
With past presidents accused of all manner of foul deeds in the run up to elections - not to mention allegations of corruption levelled at Hyundai and Daewoo (two of the country's most successful companies) - the average Korean is not exactly starved of after-dinner conversation. Now the Korean Stock Exchange has whipped up more excitement by adding the Barings name to the list of its in-house residents.

Already a legend in the Pacific Rim thanks its reputation in derivatives trading, the blue-blooded Dutch institution is expected to take its seat on the Seoul Exchange on 29 January - a privilege that does not come cheap.

The exchange yesterday approved applications by ING Barings and Hannuri- Salomon Securities, a joint venture between Salomon Brothers and several Korean companies, bringing the number of foreign and joint venture securities houses with seats on the exchange to four. The new boys join Dongbang- Peregrine (yes, I'm afraid so) and Jardine Fleming. The two new houses will have to pay about pounds 12m in subscription fees and various deposits before they are allowed to join.

Still, petty cash compared with the final bill in Singapore. And an opportunity perhaps for Nick Leeson when he finally earns parole.

A cautionary tale from the current edition of Whibread News, which highlights the perils of offering customer guarantees. Staff at the brewer's Thresher chain of wine shops are reporting some ingenious wheezes to take advantage of its Wine Buyer's Guarantee, which offers a replacement bottle if the first choice disappoints.

One elderly customer returned her purchase in a specimen jar, claiming that she was disappointed with the contents but was unable to return them in the original container. Another customer returned an almost full bottle of sparkling wine which turned out to be water with a dash of washing- up liquid.

Both were reimbursed.

Indispensable research from the nation's independent financial advisers, who report that 12 million Britons will start 1996 by making a new year's resolution. Sadly for IFA Promotion, the advisers' marketing arm, there is little evidence that any of them will resolve to use an independent financial adviser - even though it is offering a free half-hour on the couch for anyone who wants to sort out their financial affairs

According to those surveyed the most popular financial resolution will be to spend less in 1996. Some 33 per cent, including "a gladiator called Wolf", said that they would try to spend less than they earned. A further 10 per cent said that they would try to pay off their credit card bills, with 8 per cent promising to sort out a pension.

And a prosperous new year to all our retailers.

Encouraging news for carpenters. The New Zealand company Fletcher Challenge announces it has finally discovered "The Supertree'' - the result of a world-wide search for a tree species and a growing location that will provide a superior lumber. The quest to identify this faster-growing tree (which needed to be able to flourish in places with stable, low-cost economies) has been an urgent one. Tragically for the Kiwis this triumph of economical Darwinism is not located in New Zealand.

No, the winner is ... Eucalyptus Grandis, grown in northern Argentina.

The Arctic snap in the North, as in Glasgow (above), is playing merry hell with the lines of communication between Britain's financial nerve-centres. Here is a conversation between the London and Glasgow offices of Barclays Stockbrokers.

Richard Durlacher, deputy chairman: "How is it going up there?''

Glasgow office: "Minus 19.''

Durlacher: "That's odd, the Footsie is up 11 down here.''

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