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The Independent Online
Marcus Plantin, who left LWT as its director of programmes in 1992 to become ITV's first network director, got a new job yesterday - as LWT's director of programmes.

Granada, which controls LWT, has promoted Simon Shaps, director of programmes at the station, to do the same job for the whole of Granada Television.

The duo will report to Andrea Wonfor and Jules Burns, joint managing directors of Granada Productions, when they take up their posts next month.

Steve Morrison, chief executive of Granada Media group, said: "Marcus is the original Gladiator. We welcome him back to LWT, ITV's flagship weekend station." I look forward to seeing Mr Plantin wielding a giant cotton bud any day now.

David Mellor's new job as a presenter on Classic FM sounds a lot more fun than the jobs most ex-Tory ministers go for. Instead of a string of non-exec directorships with obscure oil exploration companies, the country's leading Chelsea supporter will be introducing classical music for the first time to guests such as Vinnie Jones, the Wimbledon footballer.

I just hope Mr Mellor is wearing his shin pads for the occasion.

Ken Livingstone MP, newscaster Martyn Lewis and Sir David Frost have also agreed to appear on Across the Threshold, a two-hour selection of music and chat to go out on Sundays in the new year.

"The show will be broadcast from Mellor's spectacular London home [and will feature] music drawn from David's personal collection of between 8,000 and 10,000 CD recordings," says Classic FM.

Jim Leng, chief executive and managing director of Laporte, the speciality chemicals company, is delighted by his latest disposal. The company has just sold its LS Lowry painting, Industrial Landscape, for pounds 364,500 at auction. The painting by the "matchstick men" artist has been with the company for decades, but this isn't asset stripping, says Mr Leng. The proceeds will be used to buy artworks for Laporte's new head office in London.

"Rather than having art in one room, we thought we'd rather have a collection of art spread out through all our rooms," says Mr Leng. But there'll be no severed heads - it will all be tasteful stuff, he adds.

Libya is to give neighbouring Niger a loan of $16m, which will be repayable in part by the delivery of camels, I read in Niger's government daily, Le Sahel. The loan will repayable over 10 years, with two-and-a-half years' grace, and the 3 per cent interest will be payable part in cash, part through the export of 1,500 camels a year. Now there's an idea. Perhaps the IMF would be interested in our mad cows.

Spare a thought for John Slade, who recently resigned as head of City investment at Richard Ellis, the property agents, in order to head Hamptons' new commercial property arm. Just two days after Mr Slade had sold his equity stake in Richard Ellis, the firm announced it was in talks to be acquired by giant American real estate firm Insignia, for squillions of greenbacks. Insiders reckon Mr Slade could have missed out trousering nearly pounds 1m by just 48 hours.

All three Japanese financial institutions which have gone bust in the past month are based in the same street in Tokyo. Brian Tora of Greig Middleton tells me that Yamaichi Securities, Sanyo Securities and Hokkaido Takushoku all have head offices in a street which locals have promptly renamed Tosan-dori - Bankruptcy Row. Brian doesn't tell me what's happened to rents there, however.

Coopers & Lybrand, the accountancy firm, is holding a motivational workshop for business people next Monday morning titled: "Trust me - I'm passionate." If the thought of passionate accountants doesn't make you too queasy, pop along to the Grosvenor House Hotel on Monday, where Coopers' gurus will tell you how to "get people to trust each other in the workplace". The workshop on getting pigs to fly comes later.

"The name is Bond... Eurobond." Roger Moore, the urbane actor who is also Unicef special representative for the performing arts, yesterday launched the Unicef Euro Bond, the first bond in history to be denominated in euros. In fact, it's a perpetual zero coupon bond, effectively an irredeemable donation to Unicef, the United Nations children's fund. All funds will go to projects in Bolivia. The nominal price of the bond is 1 euro, plus a premium of 599 euros, worth pounds 415.

And anyone who doesn't buy one will be dropped into a tank of piranhas.

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