Pembroke: IMC gets stuck in the mud

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The Independent Online
AS THE world's top bankers swing into town for the International Monetary Conference, the organisers are doing their utmost to ensure delegates are well catered for. As well as arranging special discounts at favoured hotels (Inter-continental, the Four Seasons, Claridge's), several outings have been planned for bankers' spouses.

The jaunts include an evening at the theatre to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard and a pounds 185 outing to Blenheim House, plus lunch at Raymond Blanc's top eaterie Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons.

But not all trips have gone down well. Snuffles broke out after some delegates attended Epsom races on Saturday where they were entertained in a chilly tent during a downpour that lasted most of the day. Other trips, such as the tour of Wren churches, were cancelled due to lack of interest. 'I think the weather put people off,' an organiser explains.

THE LATEST car sales figures do not make happy reading for Reliant, maker of the three-wheel Reliant Robin, with monthly sales down 50 per cent. In April the group sold two cars. Last month it sold just one.

PETER ELLWOOD, the 60-hour-a- week chief executive of TSB, has landed on his feet with his latest appointment. He has just been named the new chairman of credit card group Visa International. Although the job carries no salary, it does offer extensive travel perks. Mr Ellwood will have to attend six meetings a year in various glamorous locations. Mexico, where his appointment was decided last week, is one example.

But the energetic banker might have to wait before Visa's next junket to the Costa Exotica. The next three meetings are planned for the mundane commercial centres of Paris, Milan and, worst of all, London.

ONE COULD not help but be moved by the sight of 1,400 employees of Her Majesty's Treasury trudging into the QE2 conference centre, looking like the slaves' chorus from Verdi's Nabucco. They were there for another 'briefing' by Sir Terry Burns, permanent secretary - the latest in a review which could see a few mandarins' heads on the chopping block.

Coincidentally, shadow chancellor Gordon Brown was speaking at another room in the centre. For a while it looked as if he was going to join their queue as a gesture of solidarity, but instead he went straight to the front. A taste of things to come, perhaps.

THE ADVERTISING department of Redrow Homes was obviously not a major beneficiary of the housebuilder's recent flotation, unlike its founder Steve Morgan who netted pounds 62m from the offer. An urgent plea in a property magazine for more land in six of its regions opened with the proud boast that Redrow was now the UK's largest privately owned housebuilder.