People and Business: The ultimate stress buster

DAVID KOMANSKY, the Merrill Lynch chief executive, has been under severe strain of late.

The hedge fund crisis, which is rumoured to have wiped out a large chunk of its pension, and a hefty round of job cuts at Merrill must have taken their toll on his nerves.

But Mr Komansky should not despair for help is at hand. I can exclusively reveal that the Merrill boss could be in line to receive a complimentary "Gus Gutz" to relieve his tension. The stress-busting toy invented by a former American lawyer, Larry Schwartz, is going down a storm with nervy brokers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The soft doll, with its huge gaping mouth and removable organs, has become the latest recreational tool for stress-filled trading floors. At difficult times of the day, the pin-striped psychos vent their spleen by putting their hand down Gus' throat and pulling out its innards.

One of Mr Komansky's employees in the Square Mile tells me that Gus is fab. "I've got my hand in its stomach as we speak," muses the gentle trader. "All I have to do is pretend that it is my boss and rip its heart and lungs out." Mmm, charming.

I wonder whose guts Mr Komansky would like to crush. Maybe his friends at Long-Term Capital Management?

ANALYSTS, as we all know, are fearless creatures who speak their minds and are never afraid to put their head above the parapet.

Chris Grant of BT Alex.Brown and Scott Fulton of ABN AMRO must be exceptions. The two top-rated building materials experts had the experience of a lifetime during a survey of Blue Circle's Canadian plants.

After the customary site visit, Messrs Grant and Fulton were asked whether they would like to climb the CN Tower, a 12,000 feet-high beacon in the centre of Toronto. Despite a distinct wobble in their knees, the two action men agreed. But once on top, the two firmly refused to walk on the glass ceiling suspended above downtown Toronto.

"I didn't fancy walking on a thin pane of glass," says the daredevil Mr Grant who denies having issued a sell note on Canadian glassmakers.

The analysts' vertigo left their female Blue Circle host to walk all alone on the CN Tower's top floor. She must have been the only career woman in North America to pray for the glass ceiling not to break for a little while yet.

TALKING OF dizzy heights, there is no limit to the megalomania of Jim Barksdale, the chief executive of computer company Netscape, and Steve Case, his American Online counterpart. According to an e-mail disclosed at the Microsoft trial in Washington, Mr Barksdale addressed Mr Case as "Franklin D.", likening the computer wizard to the wartime US President. Not to be outdone, the Netscape man signed "your comrade Joseph Stalin", adding, "I don't like playing this part. From now on I want to be Winston C."

"Did you ever get to be Churchill?" asked Microsoft lawyer John Warden. "No" came Jim B's regretful reply.

AT LAST some good news for ING Barings' boss David Robinson. His staff are doing their outmost to cut costs at the troubled bank. The post room is at the forefront of the savings exercise. On the latest letter they sent me, the stamp has been replaced by a nice "postage unpaid" message from the Royal Mail. The total saving for the bank will be a walloping 40p to be included in the next quarterly figures. In difficult times, every little bit helps...

ADAM SINGER was yesterday confirmed as chairman and chief executive of Flextech, the TV channel operator. The move follows the death of the chief executive Roger Luard in August.

Mr Singer has been acting chief executive since Mr Luard fell ill earlier this year. The company also agreed an extension of Brent Harman's contract as managing director until 2001.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...