Pembroke: No sleaze, please

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The Independent Online
THE POUNDS 12.8m rights issue negotiated by Headline Book Publishing to ingest Hodder & Stoughton reminds us of one of Headline's less successful brushes with the City. Last March it produced a book called The Bottom Line, a financial thriller whose hero was prepared to 'use anything - blackmail, bribery, even murder' to stay at the top of the 'barracuda world of big business'.

Where Headline came a cropper was in its design for the front cover of the paperback, which featured a photograph of a gold bar. And this gold bar bore the deep imprint of Swiss Bank's logo. Swiss Bank, it would be fair to say, enjoyed a corporate sense of humour failure and consulted its laywers. The publishing house eventually agreed to withdraw the paperback edition, estimated at some 17,000 copies.

'It was a sleazy, trashy kind of novel,' the bank recalled yesterday. 'We looked at the cover and there was the logo in all its glory. The book was about the world of high finance, life in the fast lane, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll.

'It wasn't quite the image of the Swiss Bank Corporation.'

A BEAN COUNTER at a large City accountancy firm was away from his desk when telephoned by a contact at a large City law firm. 'Richard, call your Butler,' read the message left by an enormously helpful colleague.

TOM BENYON, the energetic former Conservative MP for Abingdon, is using his considerable talents to parade the plight of distressed Conservative MPs in the Lloyd's insurance market. Nobody can be more distressed than Mr Benyon. Last year he avoided the stigma of bankruptcy by agreeing to pay 14 creditors, to whom he owes pounds 2m, 12p in the pound to discharge the debt. Mr Benyon's main difficulty arose after he zigged into the property market to set up nursing homes just when the property market zagged, leaving Midland Bank with a pounds 1.3m debt on collateral based on negative equity.

Naturally, he will be seeking more than 12p in the pound for Lloyd's underwriting members from the troubled insurance market's authorities to help them with their plight.

IF YOU SAW a press release from an Italian law newsletter, Notiziario, with the headline 'Italy fights to prevent money laundering', would your reaction be the same as ours - hysterical laughter?

ROBERT DONALD, building guru at NatWest Securities, was confident that the housing market bottomed in December. So that was when he sold his house and moved into rented accommodation. Oops.