Wednesday 17 March 1999
In leafy Bad Homberg, a sort of upscale Hampstead with bigger houses, no one is richer than Johanna Quandt, matriarch of the family that owns BMW.
Madam Quandt and her children, Susanne and Stefan, are estimated to have a net worth of more than $15bn, making them the second richest family in Europe and the sixth richest in the world.
The British government's decision, therefore, to grant pounds 200m in subsidies to BMW to keep production going at its Longbridge plant makes the Quandt's potentially the richest-ever people to sponge benefits from the British state.
"It's a good joke, huh," laughs one Frankfurter. "And you British thought we had no sense of humour."
The sound of silence: The Canary is expecting no big PR splash for the annual meetings of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London next month.
The bank's scope for creative accounting has run out and it has declared its first loss. In the six years since it was founded, hewn from the finest Italian marble, the EBRD has switched from spending money solely on itself to lending it to others. Unfortunately these lenders, it now emerges, have neither the desire nor means to pay it back.
The EBRD is hoping to avoid too much attention but may be thwarted by what the Canary hears is a forthcoming series of allegations that the bank will not welcome. "Every deal they have done has been useless," says one Moscow banker.
Collectibles corner: Rupert Murdoch has paid $4.5m for a downtown New York artist's loft where he intends to live with his new friend Wendy Deng (above). But there was a hitch. A New York City zoning regulation says only an artist can occupy the property. At a dinner the other night Mr Murdoch laughed off suggestions that he could be evicted.
"I'm taking up painting," he growled. Could this be the start of a whole new career?
Drinks menu: According to a survey, these are the favourite beverages in London banks, before and after Flaming Ferraris:
Dom Perignon; Orangina.
Wheat Bier; Wheat grass
Decaffinated latte; Iced water
Sake; Green tea
Absinthe; Carrot juice
The Canary welcomes correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org
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