22 NOVEMBER 1997, Page 32

Recycled paper

I REMEMBER likening Vickers and Rolls- Royce Motors to two dukes falling upstairs out of Annabel's, propping one another up. Their merger has stumbled onwards, until now. P&O's bid for Bovis was intended to bring in a chief executive when it would have been cheaper to purchase a solid gold image. (Bovis and the chief executive turned out to be no more than plate.) Bur- ton's bid for Debenhams was swung at the last minute when some well-disguised shareholders emerged from the woodwork to accept it. (Some of them may have gone on to be shareholders in Guinness.) Every one of these mergers, put together at such effort and expense, is being taken apart, and the dealmakers who did so well out of arranging them are doing even better. (The Burton demerger will cost £55 million.) This must be the new, ecologically friendly City, with recycled paper.