City Diary: Mrs Carney helps George Osborne see wood for the trees on Help to Buy

City Diary: Mrs Carney helps George Osborne see wood for the trees on Help to Buy


Coke’s Virgin sacrifice

Sir Richard Branson was in candid mood on the topic of one of his less successful business ventures, Virgin Cola, when Diary caught up with the serial entrepreneur last week.

The reason for the soft drinks brand’s lack of fizz, claims the Virgin boss, was an “all-out attack” from rival Coca-Cola, after an unnamed British lady who worked in Coke’s head office in the States warned her bosses about “this little English brand that is catching on like wildfire on a global basis”.

Branson, who subsequently met the lady in question, said: “How they did it, we will never know. But it [Virgin Cola] just disappeared from the shelves.”

Sadly, Coca-Cola was unwilling to shed any further light. One Sarah Tuke in the soft drinks giant’s public affairs team told Diary, after being presented with a transcript of Sir Richard’s account: “Thanks for your enquiry, but we won’t be commenting.”

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Multiple profits warnings, what multiple profits warnings?

Ladbrokes shareholders will be pleased to hear that, just 12 days before the board raised the red flag for investors for the second time this year, the ailing bookmaker treated Shipley MP Philip Davies to £400-worth of corporate hospitality at Doncaster races.

The jolly is revealed in the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests, which also shows that Ladbrokes hosted Davies at a £500 day out at Royal Ascot in June.

Perhaps the horses aren’t the only ones being taken for a ride?

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Aisle be damned! Chinese couples divorcing to cash in

For richer, for poorer? Not when couples can make a fast buck – or renminbi – by divorcing, selling jointly owned property without paying capital gains tax, and then remarrying.

Such are the economics playing out in the wealthiest cities of China after the government introduced a property tax that comes with this lucrative loophole in March.

According to some heartwarming statistics, divorce rates in Beijing and Shanghai are up by more than 40pc over the first nine months of the year, compared with a 7pc rise in regions where the tax has yet to be introduced.

Who said romance was dead?

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harriet.dennys@telegraph.co.uk

Finance News – Business news from the UK and world


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