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Chase on the rocks

Could it be that Chase is not as solid as we had all been led to believe? The US bank has been eyeing acquisitions recently, leading everyone to assume that it is in rude financial health. But events at last month's five-kilometre run, the Chase Corporate Challenge at Battersea Park in London, suggested otherwise.

As the main sponsor of the run, Chase usually manages to sport the biggest marquee for post-exertion corporate entertainment - it needs to, with more than 700 runners taking part from the bank - and there is usually more than enough space for the hangers on. This year, the space was the same, but access was restricted to those with identity tags.

One who did manage to sneak past security was horrified by what she found. For the first time in the run's history, the beer was not flowing freely in the Chase tent. Others, such as Goldman Sachs, and even the beleaguered Deutsche Bank, allowed their exhausted staff to sup for free. But not Chase. "When I asked why, the barman said that Chase was trying to cut costs," says the disgruntled runner.

At least Chase staff had been warned: a memo circulated the London office telling employees how much their drinks would cost.

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