Pembrook: Murray takes an early bath

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BOB MURRAY, who with Bill Rooney co-founded Spring Ram, the fallen star of the kitchens and bathrooms sector, is selling most of his stake in Sunderland Football Club. Mr Murray, who is chairman and holds 70 per cent of the shares, is selling half of them. 'I want to bring some new blood into the club but I'll remain a shareholder and a director.'

He can't exactly need the money. Mr Murray sold his Spring Ram shares more than three years ago. Now running Omega, a Yorkshire kitchens and bathroom company, he tells me he hopes to get back to the market 'in three to five years' time.'

Mr Rooney, he hears, has rented offices with some ex- Spring Ram friends. 'I don't know what they're doing. Just something to get them out of the house, I think.'

IT LOOKED like a rather shrewd piece of marketing yesterday when Porsche parked a spanking new 911 outside SG Warburg in the City. Trying to put a few thoughts into some impressionable young minds, perhaps? Nothing of the sort, sniffs Porsche. The company was presenting its financial results and the car was just a bit of conference dressing. Not that it would have worked anyway, Warburg says. The bank's bonuses are not paid until May so the stunt, if it was one, was 'a bit premature.'

MORE ON the Hoover free flights fiasco. Arriving at JFK airport in New York on a Hoover free flight, one traveller was surprised to see a woman, with Hoover clipboard, herding up four to a cab for the journey into Manhattan. The cost: dollars 60, compared with the usual fare of around dollars 35. Looks like a case of a sharp New Yorker on the make. Hoover knew nothing about it.

EXPECT A kerfuffle outside Barclays' new head office next Wednesday when trade unionists protest about proposed job cuts. The banking union will release 505 balloons and deliver a giant protest postcard to Barclays' chairman, Andrew Buxton.

PEMBROKE learns that Alex Brummer, who edits the finance and economics pages of the Guardian, is penning a 'semi-authorised' corporate biography of Hanson. This could prove interesting, given the paper's views on the City and conglomerates, but Lord Hanson's minions have apparently agreed to some co-operation.

This does not mean Mr Brummer is being paid out of the Hanson coffers, the author says. 'It's an independent corporate biography with chapters on the man. The company has been helpful with the provision of documents.' Mr Brummer might have to get his skates on, as Nick Kochan, a freelance journalist, is also working on a Hanson tome.

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THE WORD egghead springs to mind. Philip Bond, from arbitrage research at Salomon Brothers, has won an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for his memory. The 29- year-old boffin memorized 10,000 digits before being grilled by an arbiter who called out five numbers then asked him to recall the five before and after each set. Mr Bond, who took five days off to 'revise', raised pounds 2,400 for the NSPCC and the Brain Trust. He now plans a champagne binge, after which he will no doubt struggle to remember his name.

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