Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Flights of fancy, booze and other lies

Rumours abound that Aeroflot may, just may be about to pull its bid for Alitalia. Maybe there is some sanity in the financial markets after all… Both readers might recall that, at the time this deal was announced I thought it a scabrous pustule of economic-logic-defying banker-greed….

Kommersant reported today that despite the rumours, the deal was still on but the picture seems very confused. Bluntly all the noise that the bid will be pulled this Saturday – when the Aeroflot Board meets – is coming from ‘informed sources’, behind the scenes. The denial comes on-the-record from the Aeroflot press office.

Ah…on the record…press office. In more...ahem...Sovietique Russian companies the press office is always the last to be told anything: this is not so much so that they tell an untruth in all innocence; more because they are so low in the food-chain that the ‘big swinging dicks’ – as we used to say in my banker days – simply forget their existence.

Alitalia says the deal is still on – like you tell the bride beforehand that she’s about to be jilted at the altar – and Unicredito, the lead bankers? Silent as the freakin' grave (calculating their deal-cancellation compensation no doubt). If Aeroflot pulls out I think they’ll only be one bidder left, LOL, a discount airline of rather shallow balance sheet.

Deal off or on. It’s still a crap deal for Aeroflot. But I think the deal will be off…

In matters so much more weighty, the European Parliament spent today debating what exactly is Vodka, when sold in the EU – really important stuff eh?

Politically, the EU divides into the vodka bloc (Poles, Balts) who want only grain- and potato-based spirits (over 40% proof?) to be called Vodka. The Wine bloc – those soft southerners want a broader-based definition: for instance, they make vodka from things like sugar-cane – er…isn’t that rum? – and grapefruit mash. Nice.

Apparently the third bloc is the beer bloc. Yes, Germany, Czech and the other Easties held the swing vote and refused to give protection to the ‘purity’ of Polish vodka.

Requests that ‘Vodka’ be geographic in its definition (like Champagne) had long been refused; although someone suggested that there be a definition between Vodka (generic) and Wodka (geographic)…it died as an idea a long time ago.

The Russian delegation to the EU denies it ever asked that Vodka can be called vodka even if made from meths or industrial alcohol … ;-)

Speaking of alcohol. There has been an extraordinary storm in the Russian blogosphere today. Young Russians – especially in medialand and politics – were really pissed off at the BBC story at their drinking habits. So, in a fit of irony – how Russian no? – they crashed the BBC Russian Service poll; as a friend alerted me:

"You might already know about that, though we want to alert you about a joke spread over in ICQ and blogs community about BBC Russia poll on drinking habits.
ICQ users spread the following message (please see below in Russian) to their contact list saying ‘Let’s surprise BBC: choose ‘Regularly’ in the poll section on the page

Удивим БиБиСи!
проголосуй "регулярно" и перешли дальше:
(голосовать в правой части страницы)

As you can see, the results of the poll demonstrate that almost 90% of audience does drink antifreeze and technical liquids containing spirits on a regular basis... There are around 1700 people who voted already)."

But it gets better. The BBC – not liking the answers coming out – then *deleted the votes cast* to start again. Oh yes – BBC mates confirm it – they *deleted results they didn’t like*. So much for reporting it as it really happens eh? BBC? Bent and Basically Censored.

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