Pembroke: Tempting fickle fate

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The Independent Online
Halved profits at management consultants Alexander Proudfoot provide a salutary lesson on the dangers of corporate hubris. A year ago, with Proudfoot's shares riding high at more than 350p, the then chief executive Thomas Huhn crowed of the company's accomplishments.

'They offer a tantalising glimpse of the even brighter future that awaits all of us - employees, shareholders and, above all, our clients.'

Tantalus, as classicists will recall, was the fellow whose torture in Hades included standing up to his neck in a pool of water that shrank away when he bent down to take a sip. Proudfoot's profits have proved similarly elusive. It's not for us to comment on the blue skies ahead for staff and customers, but investors whose shares fell to 69p last autumn may beg to differ.

Mr Huhn has now left Alexander Proudfoot, reportedly to pursue a career as an 'international croquet player'. An interesting diversification for the man who used to play American football for the Chicago Bears.

Well, they beat a big, bright-red Ferrari any day, in the eyes of downtrodden Eastern Europeans. A survey of salaries of capitalism's latest converts, carried out by consultants H Newmann International, claims that training seminars are among the most sought-after fringe benefits. The survey's even less credible conclusion was: 'The primary motivation for working in Eastern Europe is the desire to participate in the formation of a new economic and political system . . . Salaries as a motivating factor proved to be of secondary importance.'

Desolate futures dealers were caught high and dry yesterday by gremlins at Telerate, the financial information group, which, they claimed, failed to adjust its figures after the crucial 0.25 per cent cut in the German discount rate. Millions, they wailed, had been lost by dealers relying on the inaccurate information. (Editor's note: Serves them right for dishing the pound).

Telerate would only admit cautiously that there had been a problem and it had had complaints. 'There'll be a press release tomorrow explaining everything,' parried a spokeswoman. 'It'll sort out the confusion.' But will it sort out the alleged losses?

M&S may become yet more precious now it has won the British Sandwich Association's top award for 'influencing the development of the UK sandwich industry'.