Stargazers fail to see dust-up: Planetary aspects for corporate horoscope are less than bright

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The Independent Online
PERHAPS they should have seen it in the stars. A group of astrologers running an astrological service on the Reuters news screens have fallen out with each other and the service has been scrapped.

Global Intelligence Agency, a business forecasting consultancy, launched the service in November, having sensed a gap in the market for astrology-based forecasts. The company flashed its forecasts across City screens more used to running items on gold prices and orange juice futures. A kind of cross between Gypsy Rose Lee and a serious investment column, the service enabled subscribers to ring up for the horoscope of individual companies provided they could give the company's date of registration - the equivalent of its birthday - and its location. Using information on cycles and markets, GIA's crystal ball-gazers then interpreted the information. But perhaps it was their own runes they should have been reading. Conflicts between GIA's co-ordinator Antony Howard and some astrologers, combined with the realisation that the market might not be as lucrative as hoped, led to the service being pulled.

'Reuters deals in real-time information and the workload required was enormous,' said Mr Howard, who is not an astrologer but describes himself as a middleman and 'fixer'. 'We were finding that financially it wasn't worthwhile because the level of subscriptions was just not high enough.'

Mr Howard also struggled to agree suitable contracts with some astrologers such as GIA's business and financial astrologer, former Standard Chartered fund manager Graham Bates, who left the group after inter-planetary personality clashes. 'We did fall out but I think we were just trying to pull too many people together under one roof. Egos may have got in the way,' Mr Howard ruminated. One astrologer had another explanation. 'Astrologers and non-astrologers don't mix.'

But all is not lost. Some of the individual astrologers are thought to be negotiating separately with Reuters to run a subscriber service, though Reuters claimed to know nothing about it. And Mr Howard's GIA hopes to sign a deal with a finance magazine 'within the next few weeks' for a finance-based astrological column. 'The Reuters thing sounded good but it just got out of hand. Perhaps we should have kept quiet.'

A case, it seems, of unforeseen circumstances.