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City Diary: Tycoon must become restoration man if shabby country pile is recovered

Harriet Dennys

Bust Yorkshire property tycoon Kevin Linfoot is creeping back into his former country estate by the back door.

Ravenswick Hall was repossessed by creditors Bank of Scotland and NatWest three years ago, after Mr Linfoot’s property empire KW Linfoot went into voluntary liquidation in February 2009.

Now a well-placed source tells Diary that Linfoot’s companion Victoria Greetham, the director of ambulance-chaser Claim Assured, has put in a £1.58m offer to estate agents Rounthwaite & Woodhead.

The bid is considerably less than the £4.68m offered by an unknown party in April last year — a price drop that is possible because the 189-acre estate near Kirkbymoorside has been “systematically vandalised”, say accounts in the local press.

= Forgotten history =

Dr Ros Altmann has been quick to put the past behind her after exiting as director-general of Saga Group “to spend more time in London”.

So quick, in fact, that it is hard to believe the pensions expert ever worked at the over-50s financial provider at all. The profile on her website lists many career achievements — Government adviser, head of equities at Chase Manhattan and director at Rothschild.

But, strangely, there is no reference to the two and a half years she spent at Saga until yesterday. No luck on Twitter, either — Ms Altmann’s work feed, @SagaRosAltmann, is already "no longer tweeting”.

Was the split between the supporter of shopping around for retirement deals and the company with an exclusive annuity arrangement with Legal & General really amicable?

Ana Stewart, founder and chief executive of i-Design Group, made it game, set and match when the Edinburgh-based cash dispensers business announced an agreed takeover by US firm Cardtronics (NasdaqGS: CATM - news) at 60p per share yesterday. But serving up business deals is not the only string to Ms Stewart’s bow. Diary hears that, as a youngster, Stewart played hard-ball on the Scottish tennis circuit to win “numerous” tournaments, including the Junior Scottish Hard Court Championships. Apparently, she was a regular doubles partner of Judy Murray, the mother of a certain Andy...

= Screens of the stars =

To Nice for the Panasonic Convention. While wandering the aisles of the Acropolis Convention Centre, Diary learned that someone, somewhere, is watching Coronation Street on Usain Bolt’s old TV.

Panasonic supplied 10,000 top-of-the-range sets to the Olympic Village during London 2012. But once the Games were over, the hardware was sent back to the factory to be sold on to the public as normal.

Couldn’t Panasonic have flogged the second-hand sets (one previous Olympian owner) for double the price? “Good idea,” said Panasonic director David Preece, when Diary put this to him. “I didn’t think of that.” Going 50/50 on the proceeds sounds fair.

Heineken (Other OTC: HEINY - news) has come up with a concoction that will refresh the parts other beers cannot reach. The brewer’s research has shown that there is a vexing hole in the market for low-alcohol “moderation options” — and Foster’s Radler, a “refreshingly different” cloudy brew cut with lemon juice, is there to plug the gap.

“Radler [will] invigorate the lager market,” says Heineken ahead of next month’s UK launch, claiming that the “mid-strength category” could be worth £300m per year. For Heineken’s sake, Diary hopes that isn’t just the 2pc alcohol talking.

= Goldsmith joins club =

Eco-financier Ben Goldsmith has a new business interest, Diary can reveal. The 32-year-old founder of green investment business WHEB Group has been appointed to the board of his half-brother Robin Birley’s members club, 5 Hertford Street.

The Shepherd Market haunt has kept Goldsmith’s role, effective from “the last couple of months”, under the radar.

But Diary is told the club’s newest director will represent the Goldsmith family, which collectively holds a minority stake in the club. As does the Reuben property dynasty, led by the elusive billionaires Simon and David Reuben. Their board ambassador is David’s son Jamie Reuben, who received his discreet call-up to the board early last year.

It's official. The date when 5,000 bankers, accountants, insurers and lawyers will be running as fast they can through the (closed-off) streets of London has been set as Thursday July 11.

Not to escape the FSA the stampede is the 5k Standard Chartered Great City Race, organised by London Marathon Ltd. The good cause that their exertions are in aid of charity Seeing Is Believing could apply equally to the sight of bankers working up a sweat for someone else’s benefit, some might say.