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City Slickers: Boardroom TALES.

IS THERE no stopping Bernie Arnault, the executive at the helm of luxury goods group LVMH?

Just as it looked as though his bid for Gucci was going pear-shaped, up pops the little Frenchman to say he has won control of Chateau d'Yquem, makers of the world's finest - and most expensive - dessert wine.

The move follows a legal battle for the wine producer that started last year.

Yesterday Arnault, known as Napoleon in the French stock market, announced he had got his hands on a controlling 64 per cent stake in Yquem, which is valued at pounds 200m.

But Slickers is most confused by the response of Count Alexandre de Lur- Saluces, who runs the company.

Last year he was saying Arnault would get control of Yquem "over my dead body". Yesterday he issued a statement saying he and Arnault were in complete agreement on everything.

We'd get our CVs scribbled out if we were you, Count.

SLICKERS has always had tremendous respect for the world of financial PR and the people in it who make the Slickers' lives so interesting. But word reaches us of an incident that colours what we think about the industry.

Not long ago a respected City journalist called - well let's just call him Damian XXXX - spotted famous City PR man Brian Basham dining in fashionable London restaurant Soho House.

For those who might have forgotten, Basham was the PR consultant who got blamed for a great number of the dirty tricks that British Airways dished out to Virgin Atlantic back in the early 1990s.

Young Damian seized his chance. He ordered the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu and sent it over to Basham with a message saying: "Here is something cheap and nasty, just like you."

Basham then disappeared into the lavatory and sent back the bottle to Damian ten minutes later - having relieved himself in it.

Basham had penned his own note, saying: "You have taken the p**s once too often."

It's a wonder these guys get taken seriously inside Britain's boardrooms.
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Author:Bhoyrul, Anil; Hipwell, James
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 21, 1999
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