Pembroke: Pru loses on flat

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MICK NEWMARCH, the burly chief executive of Prudential, has finally sold his Regent's Park flat for pounds 450,000 - or pounds 322,500 less than he paid for it in 1987. Happily for Mr Newmarch, Prudential and its shareholders will pick up the bulk of the loss. The life insurer paid pounds 547,500, or more than two- thirds, of the original purchase price, and accepted a similar share of the sale proceeds.

Mr Newmarch would not say whether the sale of the flat was connected with his recent use of options to acquire and promptly sell nearly 220,000 Prudential shares. Perhaps he was short of cash - but since he was paid pounds 565,390 last year and received another pounds 204,000 of pension and incentive payments, this seems unlikely.

A READER telephones with a postscript to the recent mentions of Bank station's tape-recorded mantra 'Mind the Gap' in this column. Recently he was standing on the platform next to a middle-class mother, waiting for a train with her young daughter. 'M-m-mummy, w-what is a Gap?' quavered the little girl, looking around tremulously and obviously expecting a hairy troglodyte to emerge from the tunnel to the Northern Line.

Mummy looked blank but gamely thought for a bit before replying rashly: 'Darling, I'm afraid I don't know.' Collapse of daughter, screaming.

OH DEAR] The harsh truth about who really wields the power at Forte has been cruelly, if inadvertently, exposed in last weekend's Sunday Telegraph Review. A fascinating item on how top women keep their waistline under control in the season's whirl of high-calorie functions and drink-drenched parties made mention of Olga 'dark, dramatic and very powerful' Polizzi.

More powerful than we thought for, the article alleges, she runs Trusthouse (sic) Forte with her father Lord Forte. Despite the burdens of office in a life devoted to a merry-go-round of business lunches, cocktail parties and multi- course dinners, she remains 'slender and glamorous'.

Jogging addict Rocco Forte, the slender if scarcely glamorous chairman of Forte, must be surprised that his recent moves to grasp control of the reins at the hotel group have gone unremarked. Clearly the departure from the presidential seat in Forte's boardroom of his lordship, 84, along with a clutch of superannuated directors at the annual meeting later this month, is merely a smokescreen.

Suspicions about his sister's position as managing director, building and design, must now be confirmed.