Pembroke: Wizard at finance, not so hot on the skiing

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HOBBLING around on crutches, Gerald Corbett, Grand Metropolitan's newly minted finance director, finally made his debut yesterday at the half-year results.

The numbers man sustained a fracture on a skiing holiday before he joined Grand Met, then broke it again just after joining. 'It's not because I have fallen into any black holes left behind by David Nash,' quipped the financial wizard, referring to his predecessor.

EVIDENCE that good times are beginning to roll again in the City. Word is that directors at investment bank SG Warburg have received lucrative hikes in their end-of-year bonuses with some in line for more than pounds 1m.

This will be good news for some such as Warburg chairman Sir David Scholey, whose total package plunged from pounds 1.2m to a breadline pounds 411,000 this year. The bank is expected to announce profits up to pounds 270m this year from last year's pounds 148m. The bonuses have been communicated to staff but yesterday the bank was stiffly declining to comment.

IF HAPPY days are here again in the City, no one seems to have told Royal Insurance. It has broken its tradition of giving a bottle of Champagne to the analyst who most accurately forecasts each quarterly set of results. Yesterday's figures were the first bubbly-free zone in 10 years. 'I drank it instead,' admits Roy Randall, Royal's head of corporate relations. 'It was our best first quarter since 1988 and at just before midnight I thought I'd celebrate.' Mr Randall, who says there are still a few bottles knocking around, is unsure if the tradition will be resumed but is expecting some City pressure.

ARRAM BERLYN GARDNER, the London chartered accountancy firm that looks after footballers such as Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle and Les Ferdinand, has signed up a new partner. Martin Spencer, previously a partner at Stoy Hayward, will specialise in corporate restructuring work.

The boy Spencer is no stranger to football matters. Once involved in the rescue of Chelsea Football Club, he is also a former chief executive of tomorrow's FA Cup finalists. An Arsenal supporter, he will not be at Wembley to cheer on his old charges. 'He'll be watching it on the telly,' informs a colleague.

DAVID SAINSBURY may have climbed down over the design of his Coca-Cola lookalike Classic, but the retailer will continue to advertise the doomed can design for weeks to come. Over the past week or so millions of plastic carrier bags have been arriving in all Sainsbury stores, with the Classic cola drink splashed all over them. 'We have no plans to withdraw them,' Sainsbury insists. 'They will remain in the stores until they are all used up.' Unfortunately for the makers of 'the real thing,' this could take another two or three weeks.

NOMURA's new head of fixed- income research is not the run-of-the-mill career City type. Chris Golden, who joins the Japanese house at the end of June, once spent five years running his own consultancy from the South of France. A kind of Five Years in Provence, it enabled the half- French Golden to get his children into the French education system 'and learn the language with a proper accent'. The 40-year-old also became a dab hand at carpentry and large-scale gardening. 'But in the end I got bored,' he says, and he came back to join Lehman Brothers in 1989.

'I've got a few weeks off now so I'll probably spend a bit of time in France. I've heard there's a spring running under the inner courtyard and I'd really like a fountain.'

(Photograph omitted)

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