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City Slickers.

ASSET STRIPTEASE

pounds 10m rescue bid for raunchy club

BRITAIN'S two most expensive strip clubs - the Berkeley Playhouse and Cherokee Leisure - are in crisis talks that could lead to a full-scale merger.

Armed with a pounds 10 million rescue package, Cherokee boss David Peters is offering to take over the Playhouse from founder John Paul, the nightclub owner behind the Tokyo Joe hotspot.

Late last night, the two were thrashing out a deal that could be a lifeline for thousands of stockbrokers who lapped up shares in the Berkeley Playhouse before it opened in a blaze of publicity last September.

Since then, they have witnessed a series of disasters. First, the club failed to pay its building contractors pounds 700,000. Then the company's shares, traded on Ofex, were suspended after it ran pounds 2.7 million into debt.

More trouble came in May when Slicker disclosed that the Playhouse had no licence for topless dancing.

Topless

The revelation was hugely embarrassing for the company's backers, who include Colin Emson, chairman of Robert Fraser Asset Management, and former Page 3 model Jilly Johnson, who worked as a consultant hiring dancers. Commenting on Peters's merger plan, a friend said: "David's got the cash.

"He is offering to run the club properly, and take the concept of strip clubs right across Britain, into the hearts of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham.

"This could revolutionise the way the industry is run."

The Berkeley is famed for combining topless dancing with "City necessities". While they watch girls strip, punters keep in touch with financial events worldwide via screens, faxes and computers.

Rival nightclub boss Peter Stringfellow has little faith in the rescue bid. He said last night: "It's like Tom and Jerry getting together. But I wish them well."

Belgoes for pounds 13m

TWO restaurateurs were licking their lips yesterday after selling their eateries chain to Luke Johnson's Belgo Group for pounds 13.1 million.

Entrepreneurs Jer-emy King and Chris Corbin will take pounds 1.47 million in cash and the remainder in shares in the enlanged restaurant group.

The two have established a reputation for fusing food with fashion and showbusiness. It made their restaurants Le Caprice and The Ivy in central London musts not just for the glitterati but for the ambitious City whizzkid Luke Johnson as well.

City analysts were upbeat about the deal, one telling Slicker: "This deal makes Belgo a sort of culinary equivalent to Arsenal."

But others were more sceptical, saying that the deal illustrated a sector that is spiralling out of control.

Boardroom TALES

MORE bad news at Deutsche Bank. Following the walk-out by the entire technical team of 70 last month, the bank has suffered an exodus of many of its trainee investment bankers.

"There's definitely a lot of uncertainty at the moment," an insider told Slicker. "Let's say they're reassessing their prospects."

And the prospects look good - many have been offered megabucks at rival Schroders.

EVER thought of serving beer in the sun? You can do it in America if you have pounds 400,000. Barry Dare of Barmart British Pubs USA called Slicker to say the folks in Miami Beach, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale love our boozers.

So Barry and his company help Brits to open them. They are all called the Coach & Horses and Barry supplies the chef to create fish 'n' chips, Cornish pasties and cottage pies. See you there.

POOR old Steve Jobs, the Apple Computers boss who was once one of the world's richest men. He's trying to make a comeback after years in the doldrums following the success of rival companies like IBM and Compaq.

Jobs' big moment came at the recent Mac World convention in New York, where he was preparing to make a barnstorming speech along the lines of "I'm the comeback kid."

Slicker hears it nearly all went horribly wrong. Security guards wouldn't let him into the building because he didn't have the right pass. He just made it to the podium after a cop recognised the second most famous computer boss after Bill Gates.

TIP

OF THE

DAY

AT 60.5p shares in crisis football club Tottenham Hotspur are an absolute steal. An old warhorse like chairman Alan Sugar knows the good times will return. The club is valued at a paltry pounds 60 million and when you consider Man United is worth pounds 420 million, Spurs has to be worth a shot.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Bhoyrul, Anil; Hipwell, James
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 26, 1998
Words:738
Previous Article:SHARES: The FTSE-100 index closed up 100.7 at 5654.4.
Next Article:Dive into engineering.


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