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Insider Dealing on the 8.30 to Paddington

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 16 October 2012

Folks are remarkably indiscreet on trains. I sit here quietly tapping away on my trusty old keyboard but all around me important conversations seem to be going on. It is hard not to see this as an opportunity.

On the other side of the aisle in “the entertainment carriage” of this First Great Western into Paddington, is an man with the sort of glasses yuppie geeks wear and no hair. He had a long chat about a programme to save £200 million over a couple of years before starting talking about “new retail paradigms.” I rather scoffed at that but see that he has notes out on his table and am half tempted to move seats and find out more.

In front of me two chaps from RWE discussed whether they could meet decarbonisation targets. One of them now has his laptop open and I peek through the gap in the seats to find out more. He is starting a memo titled “Health & Safety.” Apparently in his bullet point presentation 78% of staff responded to the staff survey. Bullet point two is “That means that almost 8 in 10 staff took part.” No shit Sherlock! Pay that man a bonus for his powerpoint. I stop being nosey.

Next to me is Louise. I know her name as she has just logged into a conference call. She seems stressed. Her note pad includes the names Wincanton, 2£2 million to ask EDL is that too much?” Stobart is mentioned several times in the call. She tells a bloke in the conference call that “We might as well – we have nothing to lose”. This sounds more interesting.

Sadly, these days, I am a tad hard of hearing (maybe it is just ear wax). Reading other folks notepads as they scribble away and listening to their calls has a naughty sort of detective appeal. But poor Louise seems stressed. Perhaps I should not intrude too much on her problems.

A long time ago I found a memo from a quoted company lying in a street outside a bar as I wandered into work (at AFX News) one morning. Being a fellow who does not like to keep secrets I promptly ran it as a story. The company said that AFX News got its stories by digging in the gutter. What a compliment that was.

It just strikes me that some folks are remarkably indiscreet on trains. There must be real scope for a determined insider dealing to invest in a season ticket with Great First Western purely for research. Surely phone calls can wait? Maybe some folks like to sound important in front of their fellow passengers? Oops Louise has just got a text …time to peer over.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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