The birthday bash that never got to market; City Diary - Business - News - The Independent

The birthday bash that never got to market; City Diary

As the Stock Exchange prepares for a mega birthday bash for AIM, the successor to the USM launched a year ago, others have been forced to abandon similar plans. Brian Winterflood's Winterflood Securities, by far the biggest market-maker in AIM, considered hosting a first birthday party but balked at the sheer number of people it would involve.

With over 170 companies traded and rising, explains Julian Palfreyman, Winterflood's director in charge of AIM, "we would probably have to hire Wembley Stadium". Winterflood's post-Christmas party in April attracted a thousand guests. To invite all the managing directors, advisers and bankers involved in AIM would produce a guest list many times that size. Which doesn't mean Winterflood won't be celebrating. "AIM has been a great success, despite a lot of scepticism when it was launched.

"After the first year of the USM a number of companies had gone belly up, which hasn't happened with AIM so far," says Mr Palfreyman. He admits this has a lot to do with the bull market, and also concedes that there are rumours the Stock Exchange is planning to discipline an un-named AIM adviser.

Whatever, we should all concede that AIM is something the Stock Exchange has got right, says Mr Palfreyman. Which should be music to the ears of incoming Exchange boss Gavin Casey.

BAA's chief executive Sir John Egan says he notes with pride that at the weekend at Las Vegas Heathrow was chosen as the world's leading airport in the 1996 World Travel Awards. Hang on a minute. Hasn't Sir John heard about the recent debacle following a similar award for Manchester Airport by Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) after a poll of 45,000 airline travellers?

Just as the celebrations were getting into full swing, eight scheduled airlines landed all at the same time. A bad tempered scrum resulted as 1,500 angry passengers fought for their luggage and the limited number of trolleys available. Sir John should also note: One of the IATA categories in which Manchester had come top was trolley availability.

Those exciting people at the Institute of Chartered Accountants hold their annual conference in London next week. Charles Tyrwhitt, maker of posh shirts and accessories, is one of the sponsors. The firm says each delegate will receive a pair of brass collar stiffeners with its compliments. As if the crusty auditors needed to be any more stiff-necked.

Granada is sending out possibly the glossiest sales memorandum ever in its attempts to attract buyers for the 17 luxury hotels it acquired from Forte. These include Grosvenor House and Browns in London and the George V in Paris. The document is bound in a hard black cover with gold embossed lettering, spelling out "The Exclusives".

Continuing the luxury theme, Granada is keeping Sir Rocco Forte's corporate jet, a bone of contention in the bid battle. Gerry Robinson, Granada's boss, concedes: "We didn't say they were wrong about everything."

The sound of one hand working: Deutsche Morgan Grenfell has brought commendable Teutonic thoroughness to the vexed question of how staff in London should eat sandwiches at work. A memo from the investment bank's catering staff, quoted in the Securities & Investment Review, says sandwiches like smoked salmon and roast beef are "easily eaten, whilst working, with one hand". The gourmet sandwiches, it warns, "are more adventurous". Pastrami with chilli relish and cream cheese with carrot and walnuts are "two-handed sandwiches and may require more attention, whilst being eaten". The memo concludes that this "is a good point to bear in mind when ordering, depending on the style and level of the meeting". A spokesman says: "It was an over-zealous catering person getting carried away while describing what sandwiches were on offer. It wasn't a set of instructions." Ach so.

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