Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cityspy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cityspy

Article excerpt

email: cityspy standard.co.uk *

THE Sir Martin Sorrell libel trial is transfixing. Among the weirdest episodes to come out of the drama is the assertion by Sorrell that just before the events leading to the dismissal of Marco Benatti, the WPP boss received a Christmas present from the Italian of three books: Sun Tzu's The Art of War, The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and On War by Carl von Clausewitz. Said Sorrell: "This was clearly meant to be a message to me from Mr Benatti. These were unlike any present he had previously sent me; he usually gave me a WPP Italy diary each year." Ignoring the genius in choosing the three books and Sorrell's masterly use of understatement ("a message" is one way of putting it, same as the horse's head in the Godfather), what intrigues City Spy is Benatti's usual choice of gift for Sorrell. A WPP Italy diary? Does he get one from each of WPP's country bosses? What does he do with them all?

How do they differ? Has he got drawers full, like the Queen, of unwanted presents? Please answer, Martin - you can't keep us dangling.

* THIS year marks the 80th anniversary of Tolley's Yellow Tax Handbook. At the turn of the millennium, the tax accountants' favourite bedside reading had topped 5000 pages for the first time. By 2004, it was nearly 8000 pages and last year it reached 9806. That the tome will top 10,000 pages for the first time is as certain as Gordon Brown not making the tax system ever more complicated in his Budget on Wednesday.

* BLACKSTONE'S going public may seem like a neat solution to the travails besetting it as a leading member of an industry under siege. But it does beg the question: will it be bought out by private equity?

* THE news of a possible Blackstone IPO explains the sudden cancellation by cofounder Stephen Schwarzman of a dinner in London last week that was intended to raise the private-equity firm's profile and boost its image. …

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