Sugar not doing business with Sunday newspaper

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Since Alan Sugar is willing to spend pounds 11m on luring Juninho away from Middlesborough, another rumoured investment by the Spurs chairman, a paltry pounds 400,000 in Sunday Business, the newspaper, appears small beer in comparison.

But a spokesman for Mr Sugar insists the latter is merely a rumour "that has been doing the rounds for the last three weeks. There's nothing in it. Alan Sugar has had enough trouble with journalists over the years. I hardly think he wants to start employing them."

Yesterday Mr Sugar was at the last extraordinary general meeting for Amstrad, his creation which is to cease trading. What's left of it has been acquired by Viglen Technology. His spokesman assures me it is footy only for Mr Sugar from now on.

Now NatWest Markets is leaking telecoms analysts as well as chief executives. Mark Lambert, who leads NatWest's highly rated telecoms team, is defecting to Merrill Lynch, along with Jo Oliver and telecoms equity salesperson Katie Still.

Mr Lambert and co will join Merrill's telecoms team, headed by Chris McFadden, in September. A Merrill spokesman was cock-a-hoop: "We think these are terrific additions. We look forward to adding them to an already strong team." There could be a squabble over who gets the biggest desk, though.

Talking of defecting analysts, Rob Thomas, the building society specialist, left UBS for SBC Warburg two months ago. So it was rather puzzling when I phoned his old number at UBS yesterday, only to hear the following message: "This is Rob Thomas. I'll be out of the office until the end of April." A bit longer than April, I think.

One would have thought that if a company had gone through a bad patch then it would be only too pleased to forget all about it. But the Investor Relations Society awards last Friday at the Hyde Park Hilton opened up a wardrobe full of skeletons.

John Humphries from the Today programme was handing out the prizes and BP seemed to win most of them, including Best Company and Best Annual Report. So far so good. Then came the prize for "which company's investor relations department had performed best in crisis management".

The three nominations were National Westminster Bank, Yorkshire Water and Matthew Clark. These names were read out to stunned silence. Were they really going to rake up NatWest's pounds 90m options black hole, Yorkshire's leaks and Matthew Clark's profits warning? Matthew Clark won.

Then came the award for corporate governance - would it be BTR or Emap? At these names there was a gasp of incredulity - wasn't Emap the company which last year sacked a boatload of non-executive directors?

The bemused guests were able to recover by dancing the night away with a band doing a creditable rendition of Spice Girls songs.

Good news for those who work in Canary Wharf in London's Docklands (and that includes The Independent). Yesterday a boat service started up between the pier at London Bridge and Canary Wharf, costing pounds 1 each way and running half a dozen times a day.

This promises to be a popular alternative to the Docklands Light Railway, especially with BZW joining Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse in Docklands.

Oglivy & Mather, the smooth advertising people, already have their own riverbus, H2O&M, which they brought with them six years ago when they moved to Docklands. Canary Wharf used to run a riverbus, but this went bust around the time Canary Wharf did, before the banks stepped in to the rescue. There is some mystery over whether O&M pays anything for its boat or whether it is a "sweetener" offered by Canary Wharf.

There is another puzzle. Tidal Cruises, the company operating the new river boat service, is only contracted to serve people who work in Canary Wharf. How will they tell who is eligible? Will everyone in BZW have to have it stamped on their foreheads? We'll have to wait and see.

Audrey Carroll, one of the few analysts at struggling Manchester stockbroker John Siddall, is leaving to join a number of former colleagues at breakaway broker WH Ireland. The latter has snapped up a number of former Siddall people, including Laurie Beevors, since it set up shop a year ago. This will not amuse Siddall's new owners, an AIM start-up called Integrated Asset Management, chaired by Swiss banker Ferdinand Lips.

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