The very worst example of wedding greed comes in the form of the wedding gift list, which is a smart name for begging

Cricket: Counties give go-ahead to Test bonanza

IT IS not often that the 18 fiefdoms that comprise the county game reach a consensus over cricketing matters, but two days locked away in a hotel near Heathrow appears to have done the trick. In a meeting that many felt was characterised by a mood for change, the main surprise was the increase in the amount of international cricket to seven Test matches and 10 one-day internationals from the year 2000, a move more likely to find favour with a television audience than with paying spectators.

Last Night: Rattle's rapturous final symphony

Sir Simon Rattle City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Investment: Special factors help Parity get ahead in IT

LIKE MOST companies in the information technology sector, Parity has enjoyed meteoric growth over the past few years. The market has warmed to its combination of systems integration and an IT staff agency business, marking the shares up by a factor of seven since 1993.

BP merger bonanza for Amoco executives

A GROUP of Amoco employees, led by its 10 top executives, stand to reap a $2.5bn bonanza from stock options provided the US oil company's $110bn merger with British Petroleum goes through.

Windfalls of pounds 5,000 as AMP floats in Sydney

MORE THAN 171,000 UK policyholders yesterday made windfall gains worth on average pounds 5,000 each as AMP, the big Australian insurer, floated on Sydney's stock market.

Itnet five share pounds 30m

FIVE directors of ITNET will share a bonanza of more than pounds 30m when the information technology group comes to the market early next month.

Whitbread and S&N to create pub jobs bonanza

TWO OF the country's biggest leisure companies are planning to create a jobs bonanza in the pub and restaurant industry. Whitbread and Scottish & Newcastle yesterday announced plans to employ another 10,000 people throughout the country over the next 12 months.

Bonanza for 'club clique' as RAC is sold off

THE Royal Automobile Club, Britain's oldest motoring organisation, is to be sold to an American company, Cendant, for pounds 450m. Four MPs are among a "club clique" of RAC members set to receive a pounds 35,000 windfall from the sale.

Buy-back bonanza for three firms' investors

IT WAS a bumper day for shareholders yesterday as three companies announced substantial share buy-backs. WH Smith led the way with plans for a pounds 250m capital return following the completion of the pounds 300m sale of Waterstone's to HMV Media. Burmah Castrol, the lubricants group, also showered its shareholders with pounds 250m. Separately Ascot, the engineering mini conglomerate, announced a pounds 50m share buy-back.

The dash to cash in on PEP allowances

Like greyhounds out of their traps, UK fund managers are streaking towards the 5 April end-of-year tax deadline, hoping to pull billions of pounds of investors' money in their wake.

Rail directors scoop pounds 4.4m jackpot

FIVE directors of Thames Trains yesterday shared in a pounds 4.4m bonanza following the sale of the privatised rail operator to a bus company.

pep news in brief

The Government's decision on ISAs (see our front-page story), removes fears by many fund managers that the cost of transferring their existing PEPs into ISAs could reach hundreds of millions of pounds.

John Lewis staff get annual bonus bonanza thanks to windfall effect

STAFF at John Lewis Partnership are to enjoy their highest annual bonuses since the retail boom of the late 1980s, as the company announced a sharp increase in profits boosted by the effects of last year's building society windfalls.

BP investors set for $1bn share buyback bonanza this year

British Petroleum is planning a rolling programme of share buybacks, likely to generate windfalls to investors worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year, despite disappointing shareholders yesterday with weaker than expected profits.

Camelot in quest for PR white knight

Lottery operator Camelot, facing demands that it should lose its licence, is seeking a media guru. Kim Sengupta reports.
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