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
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?