PEMBROKE: Avoid that sinking feeling

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The Independent Online
Amidst the celebratory din and flowing champagne that accompanied the sale of International Television Corporation, the film company started by Lord Grade, to PolyGram, I notice a curious omission.

According to its PR company, the list of classics bought by PolyGram includes Thunderbirds, The Saint, Sophie's Choice and The Eagle Has Landed. But where is Raise the Titanic - the hugely expensive movie starring Burt Lancaster?

The film's £36m losses broke ITC's financial back and led to the cigar-chomping mogul losing control of his prodigy. Lord Grade famously quipped afterwards that it would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic.

R R News arrives from the treehouses and hippy caravans of the self-declared nation of Pollok, Glasgow, that an army of travellers, crusties and other ecologically concerned protesters have ingeniously become shareholders in Wimpey and are preparing to invade the construction company's annual meeting next April.

The row centres on the building of the M77 between Glasgow and Ayr, through the residential district of Pollok. "We intend to travel to London and enlighten the company with our views," said Suzanne Sunderland, a spokesperson for Earthfirst, one of the action groups involved.

Sir John Quinton, formerly chairman of Barclays and of the Premier League, has the right experience for such a confrontation.

Apart from hooliganism by football fans, he has faced protests over Barclays' involvement in South Africa and a stink-bombing campaign by an irate customer.

But poor old Joseph Dwyer, chief executive, is said to be bashful at best and to find the prospect of facing such an audience daunting.

R On the very day Labour MEPs were voicing their belief that economic ownership should reside with the community "rather than in the hands of a few private individuals or multinationals", representatives from those multinationals were flocking to Brussels for a discreet engagement with the enemy.

Three hundred top businessmen paid £500 each for a briefing from the Labour Party's European parliamentary party on "Labour working in Europe".

Companies represented included a dozen from the FT-SE 100 and some top Tory donors such as Hanson, Glaxo, Whitbread and Marks & Spencer.

The afternoon briefing was followed by a networking opportunity with the electorally confident Tony Blair over dinner at the Conrad Hotel.

At Boots, Martin Wakeling, director of corporate affairs, denied that the day was an exercise in political back-pedalling by companies. "We are happy to meet with any party," he said.

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