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No black holes at the `IC'

WHAT IS going on at Investors Chronicle, that revered weekly bible of the small investor? A mole tells us that several freelancers have been sent packing because whoever drew up the budget apparently forgot the magazine comes out weekly rather than monthly, forcing a reassessment of priorities.

Rumour has it the IC is having to find a few hundred thousand in savings to balance the books. An official spokesman for Pearson, which owns IC and its daily stablemate the FT, admitted to some belt tightening but insisted that any talk of black holes was wide of the mark. No doubt all will be revealed and more when Marjorie Scardino delivers the results on Wednesday.

He's all heart

BILL CASTELL, chief executive of Nycomed Amersham, the health technology group, is proud of the revolutionary products the company makes for people with heart defects.

Mr Castell personally trots the globe testing rival heart products - so he must have one of the most tested hearts in the world. The chief executive told me yesterday: "I'm 51 so I need my heart testing anyway." How nice to combine business with pleasure.

Oooh, Doctor!

OXFORD UNIVERSITY recently advertised six open lectures on the history of the political structure of British broadcasting, to be given by "the first News International Visiting Professor of Broadcasting Media and Chief Executive of Channel 5, Dr David Elstein". The use of "Dr" prompted unkind speculation in media circles over the nature of the doctorate in question.

Given Channel 5's much publicised output of late night soft porn recently, some suggested it might be a medical qualification of some sort. Oxford subsequently admitted the doctorate was their invention, blaming the mistake on the traditional "temp in our office" and adding for the sake of complete accuracy: "News International called to say that he's an MA - from Cambridge."

Millennium bog

THE APPROACH of the year 2000 has led to much mention in the French language press (France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada...) of "la bogue" - pronounced "bog". Not a synonym for les toilettes but merely a reference to the millennium bug.

Meanwhile, French mayors impelled to overspend on celebrations of the computer meltdown have coined a variation on noblesse oblige: "millionaire oblige".

Gas guzzlers

ROBERT BARRIE, an economist with CSFB, is worried about what Gordon Brown will say today on petrol duty. Mr Barrie owns six vintage racing cars - and whenever he races them at Le Mans and other tracks they guzzle petrol, averaging around six miles a gallon, I gather. Ouch. It's just as well Mr Barrie doesn't smoke and collect malt whisky.

All aboard

NOW THAT bonus season is drawing to a close, the City jobs merry-go- round has started spinning again. Heading for the exit at the Bishopsgate offices of BT.Alex.Brown, where the takeover by Deutsche Bank has unsettled spirits, are Alex Graham, head of global syndication and European capital markets, and Matthew Collins, head of European debt.

Mr Graham clearly could not measure up to Michael Cohrs, Deutsche's existing global head of syndication who was poached three years ago from Warburg for a rumoured $2.5m a year. Mr Graham is off to Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette to be their new head of European equity capital markets, while Mr Collins is off to Merrill Lynch to work alongside Guy Dawson, himself a sometime Deutsche refugee as head of European leveraged finance on a rumoured package of pounds 4m.

That leaves Deutsche and Merrill all square, Deutsche having poached leveraged finance hotshot Tom Gahan from Merrill a few weeks ago.

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

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