People and Business: A tale of two tastings

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The Independent Online
THE CITY press corps faced a vexing dilemma on Tuesday night: whether to go to the German beer tasting at Commerzbank, or the French wine tasting at AXA.

Such are the travails of City journalism. In the event, I elected for the wheat beers of Germany while a colleague of mine opted for the vin, courtesy of France's biggest insurer. We both started off with the same intention, to go to both in the same night. Neither of us made it - testifying to the success of both parties, I think.

Jilly Goolden, the antiques and wine pundit, was on hand at the Globe Theatre on theSouth Bank to enlighten the AXA guests on the finer points of Gallic viticulture. Also on hand was the FA Cup, (AXA sponsors the competition), and everyone was allowed to hold the Cup aloft in true schoolboy (or girl) style.

Meanwhile, just across the Thames at Gracechurch Street, Mehmet Dalman, chief executive of Commerzbank Global Equities, hosted a tasting of eight fine German beers.

Mr Dalman said he had got over the possible cultural clashes which have plagued other German-owned London merchant banks by the simple expedient of living in Frankfurt.

If anyone in Frankfurt has a complaint about their British colleagues, he says, he can turn around and say: "This is a German bank. What is the problem?" It does mean a weekly commute to London, though.

Mr Dalman's two passions outside work and his family are football and horseracing. He is a Manchester United fan, and when United got through to the European Champions League final against Bayern Munich, he says, "I rang up my old friend Karl-Heinz Rumenigge (a vice president of Bayern Munich) and said: `I want to buy every seat in the stadium'."

The former German World Cup player may well agree. After all, the club banks with Commerzbank.