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How not to win City friends

MARKS & SPENCER is trying hard to be a bit more City- friendly following the elevation to non-executive chairman of the prickly Sir Richard Greenbury.

The retail group didn't help itself in this regard yesterday when it arranged an analysts' briefing with new chief executive Peter Salsbury at 5.30pm at its head office in Baker Street.

Obviously no one at M&S had twigged that this clashed with the annual dinner for the Institute of Investment Management and Research (IIMR) across town at the Grosvenor House Hotel, which started at 6pm.

Analysts regard attending the IIMR dinner as an essential boost to their "visibility" in the Square Mile. Thus the M&S audience was sparser than it could have been, and there was a frenzy of changing into tuxedos in the M&S loos by those who tried to fit in both events.

Sorry, George

A LEADING economist has retracted his claim that George Soros probably traded and profited on inside information that a former Soros employee was about to be named head of Brazil's central bank.

Paul Krugman, economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that after talking to the former hedge fund aide in question, Arminio Fraga, he is convinced that no such inappropriate dealing has happened.

In the original article in Mr Krugman's Internet magazine Slate he wrote that bankers had told him that hedge funds led by Mr Soros had been big buyers of Brazilian debt just before the official confirmation of Mr Fraga's job. In a later Internet article, however, Mr Krugman insisted Mr Fraga "did nothing wrong".

You can see the row played out on http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www.

BMW's O-levels

PROFESSOR DOCTOR Joachim Milberg had an interesting education before becoming chairman of the board of management at BMW, it would appear.

The German car giant has sent us an English translation of an interview the Professor Doctor gave to its inhouse magazine. The mag says that from 1953 to 1959 he attended secondary school, where he took "GCE O-levels". This is taking literal translation a bit too far, I think. The chairman in fact attended realschule and took Mittlere Reife, BMW spokesman Jurg Dinner says.

And no, I'm not going to mention the war. Oops...

FSA fodder

THE FOLLOWING job ad appeared in the papers this week: "I wish I could find time to support 150 central servers, buy some fresh herbs, let the Shiraz breathe, answer the door four times and get a crust on a creme brulee." Far from being an ad for a chef, this was in fact from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which is recruiting IT analysts. I wonder if Howard Davies can "get a crust" on his creme brulee?

Stylish PR

I HAD not realised Stewart Prosser, current spokesman for GRE and a former stalwart of the Royal Bank of Scotland, used to play trumpet for the group Style Council.

"I was classically trained and played in brass bands in Hampshire, where I grew up," says Mr Prosser, now head of communications at GRE. "I did a four-year graduate traineeship with the financial side of Peugeot, and then I started playing part-time for a soul band in London."

His big break came in 1984 when Paul Weller's band recruited him for a world tour. Although he still did session work, this full-time playing only lasted until 1985 when he joined Chase Manhattan as a financial analyst. "It was Wembley Stadium one moment, financial analyst the next," a misty eyed Mr Prosser recalls.

He turned 40 last month, and his job is representing GRE as it puts its proposed acquisition by Sun Life to shareholders. And no, he has no itch to play the trumpet professionally again. "I was offered the Paul Daniels show, and I just couldn't face it."

E-mail: j.willcock@independent.co.uk

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