Pembroke: The topsy-survey world of valuations

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S beleaguered surveying profession, where one company seems to value a property portfolio at pounds 1bn and another values it at 8p, will get a bit of a steer today. With a fine sense of timing, the British Association of Hotel Accountants is launching its recommended practice for the valuation of hotels. This should attract considerable interest following the wildly different estimates for the hotels in the Queens Moat Houses portfolio.

No doubt Jones Lang Wootton and Weatherall Green & Smith, the two surveyors involved in the Queens Moat valuations, will be reading their copies thoroughly.

WHOM SHOULD Pembroke find advertising in the Essex County Cricket Club calendar? None other than Bird Luckin, erstwhile auditors to Queens Moat and a firm with offices in the financial centres of Chelmsford, Braintree and Dunmow. The accountants' slogan? 'Your business needs experts.'

MICHAEL MILKEN, the junk bond impresario who was released from prison earlier this year, is in hot water again. Business Week says the financier - who is barred from Wall Street and now operates sans toupee - has ruffled feathers with his plans to sell tapes of the management course he teaches at the University of California at Los Angeles. UCLA, which gets a cut of the profits, is being pressured to drop the deal. 'The University of California should not be engaging in profiteering from tapes on 'pop' economics made by a convicted felon,' froths one irate senator.

With a fortune already estimated at more than dollars 300m, Milken believes he can add to his cash pile. In a separate deal, he has invested in a multimedia company co-founded by a sometime saxophone player with Pink Floyd.

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YOU CAN TELL it's nearly Christmas: the imaginative little gifts have started arriving from Paul Smith, men's fashion retailer and darling of magazines such as GQ and Esquire. This year's offering is a brightly coloured booklet of fashion transfers under the heading 'Boutique owning for beginners'. Recipients are invited to decorate white socks and white shirts with little transfers depicting Paul Smith Christmas specials, which include hand-painted dog ties (ties with dogs on them, not ties for dogs), shoes with painted soles and a trainset briefcase.

Alternatively, you can decorate the items with transfers of Paul Smith himself, dressed head to toe in sombre yet trendy black. Pembroke is not sure whether all this is better or worse than previous years' offerings, which have included a 3D viewfinder.

INTERCAPITAL, the derivatives broker, is also getting into the festive spirit a little early. The broker is donating all the revenue from dealings at its London office on Friday to two charities, Save the Children and Medecins sans Frontieres. Intercapital has declined to say how much the wheeze might raise, presumably just in case the brokers have an off-day.

THERE IS LITTLE that James Rath can be taught about hiding his light under a bushel. On Friday he was celebrating, if this is the right word, 20 years with the Association of Investment Trust Companies. Highly regarded for his knowledge of the industry but extremely shy, his light seems destined to remain hidden. He was too shy to invite anybody, so only the association's staff turned up.

MITEL TELECOM is looking for companies to enter its Challengers Trophy, which starts next spring. The competition involves teams (which must include at least one senior executive) struggling up hill and down dale, wading through streams and undergoing other orienteering tests. The computer boffins at ICL have won for the past three years, beating teams from Shell, Lloyds Bank and SmithKline Beecham.

Two years ago, Patrick Rich, chairman of the gases group BOC, took part. But such was the experience that he never entered again. 'His office blames pressure of work,' say the organisers, not sounding too convinced.