Spy City

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 4, 2005 | Go to article overview

Spy City


email: cityspy@standard.co.uk ONCE, it seemed, the only people destined to make serious money out of the web were pornographers. But online gambling businesses are running them close. Latest to prosper is PartyGaming, a poker and casino operator that is contemplating a London listing and could be worth [pounds sterling]2.3 billion. So who are PartyGaming's lucky owners set to cash in their chips? They include Ruth Parasol, a US lawyer who previously laboured in the "adult entertainment industry", and her business partner Anurag Dikshit. A computer whiz from India, Dikshit is heading for a jackpot despite having a surname for which he must have suffered terribly from kindergarten onwards. These days, his name fails to get through any internet foul-language filter worth its salt.

Emailing is, presumably, out if he insists on using his full name. The poor (but rich) guy has to turn to the old-fashioned fax and post instead.

SO Luc Vandevelde is to take over the running of Carrefour, the world's second-largest supermarkets chain, because investors have grown alarmed at its performance in its French homeland. "Lucky Luc" will replace Daniel Bernard, chairman and chief executive for 12 years, as head of its supervisory board. Given Vandevelde's lessthan-heroic attempts to restore the fortunes of Marks & Spencer, the appointment brings to mind a question once asked by Sir Arnold Hall when he was chairman of British Aerospace (now BAE Systems): "What problems can this company possibly have which are so bad that this could be the solution?"

WHITEHEAD Mann, the troubled headhunter, has a set a new standard in euphemism with its announcement that profits would be [pounds sterling]4.5 million below market expectations. Even the most optimistic analysts were only predicting [pounds sterling]3. …

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