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I HAVE bad news for the Investor Relations industry, the younger sister of Public Relations, and wealthier cousins of the media family.

Investor Relations has been prospering while its elder sister has taken much of the flak which goes with the job.

The first task of Investor Relations is to push the price of the companies' shares ,according to 67 per cent of companies polled in a survey by Hemmington Scott, the financial publishers.

The astonishing thing is that there are apparently other objectives recognised, including the establishment of a two-way flow of information between management and investors, keeping shareholders happy and promoting access to capital markets.

But Peter Scott, the chairman of Hemmington Scott, tells me that 84 per cent of the companies which responded to the survey felt their shares were undervalued at some point over the past year, and 35 per cent thought they were undervalued for at least six months of the year. And this was at a time when the stock market has reached an all-time peak.

GOLD FIELDS, the company formed last year to absorb the gold mining interests of GFSA and Gencor, is dispensing with headhunters and going direct to the market-place for a successor to Brian Gilbertson, the executive chairman standing down later this year.

Neither Alan Wright, the deputy chairman of Gold Fields and ceo of GFSA, nor Richard Robinson, the incumbent chief executive of Gold Fields, want to be considered.

The preferred candidate will have a high position in the mining industry but not necessarily in gold. The job is based in Jo'burg but the main aim of the chosen candidate will be to help expand Gold Fields mining interests outside South Africa.

VAUX the Sunderland-based brewers will be hoping that the supporters of the local football club will be drowning their sorrows after being pipped for promotion to the Premier League

The pounds 8m syphoned off the local club's market capital yesterday does not trigger a spending drought. Vaux is the club's official sponsor and its Lambton's beer logo adorns the players' strip.

WORLD CUP fever is already stalking City streets, or rather making the phone wires hum at Sporting Index, the City bookmakers who are taking bets on the sporting event.

Nothing so dull as who will actually win the cup of course, but spread bets on anything from the number of goals in the entire tournament (168 is the bookie's favourite) to the number of yellow (312) and red (40) cards, how many players will be stretchered off the pitch (a rather frightening 121) and the number of times the ball will hit the bar (waggishly known as the Last Orders bet). SI's Wally Pyrah says they expect to take pounds 10m by the final whistle, twice as much as in Euro 96.

Spread betting, for the unitiated, is the fastest-growing form of gambling since the National Lottery. It is based on the bookie predicting the most likely number and punters then betting which side of the mid point the actual result will be.

THE London Triathlon is hoping to attract up to 300 teams and more than 6,000 individuals to swim, cycle and run round London's Docklands on 20 September, and raise pounds 1m for charity .

The Triathlon's director Johno Fullerton is hoping this year's event will be more than twice the size of the first triathlon last year which was started by Tony Banks, the Sports Minister.

The event is expected to attract world class performers hoping to qualify for eligibility for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but team members will only be expected to perform in one of the three disciplines.

PRICE WATERHOUSE has added three more specialists to its business regeneration division set up a year ago to help lame dogs over stiles. They include Gavin McLean, former managing director of Harcros the builders merchanting subsidiary of Harrison & Crosfield which was successfully revived and sold off last year. Before that he was md of Caradon's bathrooms subsidiary and successfully turned it from loss to profit. Peter Lewis is a specialist in aeronautical engineering and technology and Eoin O'Neill is an operations specialist.

IF CONFIRMATION were needed that actress Helena Bonham-Carter is not just a pretty face, it comes with the news that her brother Edward Bonham- Carter is the new deputy chief investment officer at Jupiter, the successful unit trust management company whose net sales led the industry last year.