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Monday, 1 April, 2002, 19:22 GMT 20:22 UK
Harrods' April Fool flotation
Harrods department store
Harrods: Not heading for the stock market just yet
Who says the business pages are just for City "suits" and dried-up number-crunchers?

Monday's offerings included news of a floating department store, a cow-breeding finance minister and a call for bribes to be legalised.

Mohamed Al Fayed
Fayed: 'Bizarre' joke at journalists' expense

Of course, what some failed to notice was the date.

One of the most elaborate April Fool pranks was perpetrated by Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of London's Harrods department store.

He set financial reporters scrambling on Sunday with a statement that he planned to "float" Harrods.

Contact Loof

Those hoping for details of an imminent stock market listing - or flotation - were told that a further announcement would be posted on his website on 1 April at 0001 and remain until 12 noon.

Alternatively they could contact one Loof Lirpa, a name the sharp-minded will not have failed to spot was April Fool spelt backwards.

Paul Martin
Martin: Not giving it all up for the ducks yet

A second announcement duly came in which Mr Fayed said the store would indeed "float".

"And what more appropriate place to float the world's most famous store than on the world's best-known river, the River Thames?" it said.

In case any shred of doubt remained, the punning tycoon added the piece was "intended for amusement only".

"There are no plans to construct a floating version of Harrods to be sited along the river Thames in London."

While there might have been laughing in Knightsbridge, the Independent newspaper branded the exercise "bizarre" and suggested it might have been part of a sales stunt.

Handsome ducks

In Canada, Finance Minister Paul Martin found himself reported to be about to quit his job to take up cow and duck breeding.

The April Fool report, on a website for political gossip, said Mr Martin planned to pursue a "burgeoning" interest in breeding Charolais cows and "handsome Fawn Runner ducks".

Some currency traders appeared to take gossipmonger Pierre Bourque at his word despite a speedy denial from Mr Martin's office.

The Canadian dollar tumbled to a one-month low against its US counterpart.

Payments for a better life

Romanian financial daily Ziarul Financiar carried on its front page a spoof article calling for a sliding scale of taxes on "commissions and supplementary insurance payments for health and a better life", starting with a 5% tax on bribes of up to one million euros.

The tongue-in-cheek piece also said the government was considering incentives for bribe-payers, under which they could offset 50% of their spending on backhanders against tax.

"This will stimulate citizens to ask for a receipt for the amounts," fictitious government sources told the newspaper.

See also:

26 Jun 01 | Business
Harrods puts oil stake up for sale
20 Nov 01 | Business
Falling dollar adds to Canada's ills
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