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City Slickers.


Viagra firm in pounds 20m UK deal; A BRITISH drugs firm is cashing in on the fight against obesity by winning a pounds 20million deal with US giant Pfizer, maker of Viagra.

Pfizer is paying Phytopharm, of Huntingdon, Cambs, for permission to license its appetite suppressant P57, an extract from a South African plant.

The biggest winner will be chief executive Dr Richard Dixey, who yesterday saw the value of his 25 per cent holding soar as Phytopharm shares rose 16 per cent to 134p. Pfizer is also putting pounds 4.3 million into a study of the anti-obesity treatment.

"If all goes well we could be looking at a billion dollar drug like Viagra," says Dixey.

Japanese broking giant Nomura is also showing interest. It bought 17 per cent of Phytopharm at a knockdown price of 40p a share last December. And Slicker hears Pfizer may want to sign other deals with Phytopharm.

"It's not just P57 that Pfizer wants. They're also interested in cures for baldness and eczema," says one insider.

Slicker says: Well done Phytopharm - another success for a British biotech firm. They must be on to a winner, even if they don't find too many customers with an appetite as huge as the Python film character Mr Creosote.

Boardroom TALES

HOW long before Freepages, the business directory inquiries business, makes a profit? Slicker advises the City not to hold its breath. Yesterday the group's boss, Robert Bonnier, lifted the lid on quarterly losses of pounds 6 million, way up on the pounds 2.4 million it lost for the same period last year.

The AIM-listed company's latest wheeze is to apply for a full stock-market listing. If Freepages bosses want to change their broker, perhaps they should just ring themselves up to find out who to approach ...

IT SEEMS Pierre Levicky, the boss of bust restaurant chain Pierre Victoire, has been pipped to the post by his own franchisees. The indefatigable Levicky had planned to buy back a large chunk of his chain for his new company, Tricolor, but the franchisees have beat him to it. Although the receivers were at first reluctant to break the chain up, they gave in to a bid from the franchise consortium for 46 of the most successful restaurants. At pounds 500,000 it was, after all, the highest offer they got!

FULHAM - or Flaaam, as its posh inhabitants like to call it - has gone bananas for bananas. Since Sainsbury's opened a new store there a month ago, West Londoners have been buying them by the ton. Nobody can explain the phenomenon although Slicker has a theory - the fruit provides more energy than any other, with one banana enough to last for four hours' heavy shopping. They should start selling them at Harvey Nicks.

BGR cooks up pounds 1m recipe for success

IF RESULTS at restaurant group BGR are anything to go by, Britain is not in recession. Yesterday the group reported profits up 7 per cent to nearly pounds 1 million.

Chairman Tony Allan said the boost was due to the company's flagship restaurant Bank encouraging customers to shell out an extra 5 per cent on their meal bills. Now diners spend an average of pounds 45 a head at the upmarket eaterie in London's Aldwych.

But Slicker reckons they can do a bit better. We hear the best breakfast at Bank is the Beluga caviar at pounds 184.

You only get 100 grammes of the stuff although Mr Allan assures us that's all you need to set you up for the day.

Slicker's been looking at the car market and is impressed with Sanderson Bramall. The motor dealer has seen its share price fall to 190p due to problems at market rivals Arriva and Car Group affecting confidence in the sector. But with interim profits showing a four per cent increase, Slicker reckons Old Bramall could be a nice little runner.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Bhoyrul, Anil; Hipwell, James
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 25, 1998
Previous Article:SHARES: FTSE-100 index closed up 76.7 at 5553.7.
Next Article:Dear Jo; Letters.

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