Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

PEMBROKE : Lively challenge to Liffe old guard

The contest is quietly starting for the prestigious post of chairman of the London International Financial Futures Exchange, which is up for grabs when Nick Durlacher steps down in May. Support is already lining up behind older directors on the 2

4-member board.

Tony La Roche of Cater Allen Financial and Jack Wigglesworth of Citibank, the two deputy chairmen, would seem obvious candidates. But young traders on the floor think they might a bit long in the tooth to tackle crucial issues facing the market.

"Some directors have got splinters up their backsides, they've spent so long sitting on the fence," one young director remarked.

Other names in the frame include the sociable Chris Hartley at Dean Witter, American Jan Waye of Cargill Investor Services, and the vivacious Victoria Ward of NatWest.

One potential candidate who could present a promising challenge if persuaded to enter the ring is Mark Eynon, managing director of Warburgs' futures and options department.But he is making so much money for his company it seems reluctant to release him.

Staff at Birmingham's top stockbrokers are scandalised by an outrageous prank that mistakenly hit the television screens.

Going for broke Staff at Birmingham's top stockbrokers are scandalised by an outrageous prank that mistakenly hit the television screens. Security staff at the firm's Edmund House headquarters were stunned as they peered into their video screens at the sight of a junior financial adviser escorting an unidentified lady friend to the partners' underground car park.

All eyes were glued to the screen when the pair climbed onto the bonnet of his boss's metalic grey Jaguar saloon and performed an exhausting Ugandan dance of a horizontal nature.

Their antics will not have pleased the car's owner. He is a church-going vegetarian who is unlikely to see the funny side of the incident.

The employee is no longer with the company, though his departure is unconnected to the incident.

"In some ways we are all rather envious of his bravado," said one Birmingham broker. "After all, which employee has not wanted to perform such a trick on his boss?"

Ladbroke, the bookmakers, has shortened the odds of an MP winning the lottery from 250:1 to 100:1. Due to popular demand they have installed a lottery machine in the Palace of Westminster. Incidentally, the odds on an election this year recently shortened to 5:1 after a confident gambler placed a massive £10,000 bet that Mr Major would throw in the towel.

Pepsi attempted to add a flash of glamour to its latest advertising campaign in the continuing cola wars yesterday by flying in Cindy Crawford (above), who follows Michael Jackson as its star representative. Following the impertinent invasion of the colashelves by J Sainsbury's Classic Cola and Richard Branson's cut-price Virgin cola, Pepsi certainly needs a boost.Whether the sight of Ms Crawford appearing with braces on her teeth in one of Pepsi's 17 new commercials will do the trick is anyone 's guess.

Strawn's new game At the age of 36, Mark Strawn is leaving Domark, the games company he founded with Dominic Wheatley in 1986. The private company started as a Business Expansion Scheme venture and quickly became one of Britain's most successful softwarehouses, w ith its Eureka and Trivial Pursuits games clocking up nearly £1m of profits last year on £10m of sales.

Last year Mr Strawn, who retains a 10 per cent stake in Domark, concentrated on raising more than £1m to fund future growth and handed day-to-day management to Ian Livingstone, the dungeons and dragons entrepreneur, and now finds himself out of a job.

From his Putney house overlooking the Thames he has started his own consultancy advising computer and media companies on how to raise money. He is also spending more time with the Puccini Society, which he founded in September to promote the composer of La Boheme and Madame Butterfly. "One day Puccini will so famous our society will be as big as the 1,500-member Elgar society," he says.