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Play it again, Cynthia


At least one brokerage firm in the US didn't have a Christmas party. Not that any of its employees are complaining.

Cynthia Zeltwanger, president and CEO Fimat USA, a brokerage subsidiary of French bank Société Générale, decided she should offer something slightly different given that 2004 was the 15th anniversary of the firm's operations in the US.

So at the end of a conference call to employees in the firm's various offices in which she recalled some of the milestones of the firm's history, she announced that in place of a party every employee would be given a gift: an iPod mini.

A collective shock hit home as they all realized what she had just said; many rushed to the HR department as soon as the conference call was over. At least, those who were in the New York and Chicago offices. Houston and Kansas City, it turned out, had trouble dialling in, and found out a little later.

IPod minis have been a hot item since their launch early last year, and at times the $249 MP3 player has been out of stock for weeks.

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