Mr Earl, who once attempted to take over Storehouse, the BhS and Mothercare group, has spent the past two years in the United States.
He tells me he will be undertaking his sixth London marathon in April and hopes to post his best time of under three hours 15 minutes. 'Our offices are right by St James's Park so I can do a few laps at lunchtime,' he puffs. 'I have also been doing some training in Bolivia at 13,000 feet so I should be pretty fit.'
The news that Hutchison Telecom has decided to call its new phone service Orange begs one question. Why? 'We wanted a name that would set it out from the crowd and a name not directly associated with mobile communications,' a Hutchison spokesperson said. 'The idea is to try to connect Hutchison with a colour in the same way people associate Silk Cut with purple and BP with green.'
Optimistic maybe, but Hutchison staff were taking umbrage yesterday at suggestions that the name, dreamt up by the corporate identity specialists Wolff Olins, was stupid. 'After all, when people think of Shell they think of oil and petrol stations. They don't think of the seaside,' Orange said. What are they talking about?
The double-breasted suits at Saatchi and Saatchi are no doubt chuffed to have beaten three rivals in a pitch to grab the army's pounds 4m advertising account. The army, which has been busily sacking soldiers in recent years, feels it needs some help recruiting officers and bolstering the ranks of the Territorial Army.
Pembroke would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at the beauty parade. 'Right then, you 'orrible lot. Call yourself an ad agency. . . ?'
And we think our chief executives are overpaid. John Reed, the American banker who steered Citicorp through the commercial lending crisis, was rewarded with a thumping threefold increase in his compensation last year, taking him to a very handy dollars 6.2m. And then there are the share options, exerciseable in 10 years' time and potentially worth another dollars 21m.
And still in America. What medium has Bill Gates, prophet of the interactive multimedia revolution, chosen for his definitive treatise on the information superhighway? The paperback book, of course.
Mr Gates, the founder of Microsoft and America's richest entrepreneur, is reportedly seeking dollars 2.5m for a right riveting read that will explain his vision of the future to the computer-illiterate.
Goldman Sachs, the American investment bank, continues to dangle the financial carrot. Media analyst Guy Lamming will join Goldman from James Capel in the summer. He will team-up again with his old cohort Neil Blackley, who trod the same path a few months ago.
The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants is proud of its international breadth. So it is perhaps fitting that it has decided to make its Accountancy Journalist of the Year competition a pan-European affair from next year. The move could also have something to do with a desire to inject the competition with more, er, competition. Andrew Jack of the Financial Times has won for the last two years, with the Independent's Roger Trapp as runner-up.
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