A diplomatic storm is brewing as leaders of the G20 nations gathered in Cannes on the promise of a bit of a chat about the economy, a slap up buffet and some of the best wine that the local branch of Carrefour could offer. Instead, sources from within the locked down summit hotel report that the group were forced to sit through a four and a half hour time-share presentation by a conglomerate offering part ownership of a number of Mediterranean countries at knock down prices.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stormed out of the meeting at the earliest opportunity and was heard to mutter "I already practically own this shit anyway" as she stuffed uneaten vol-eu-vents into her handbag.
Mr. Berlusconi seemed to misunderstand the fact that he was part of the sell-off and actually put in a bid for Spain. Later, aides to the Italian premier explained that he was attracted by the fact that the legal age of consent in Spain is 13 - the lowest in Europe. A progressive policy which Mr. Berlusconi sited as "an opportunity" as he reached for his chequebook.
Despite the indignation shown by the premiers, China, Russia and Japan do seem to have walked away with a tidy deal on a springtime fortnight of Italy and Greece with Albania thrown in free.
A spokesman for the sales team, an ex trader at Lehman Brothers and specialist in mortgage backed Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs), said that the process of taking a whole basket of debt of "varying quality", chopping it up and repackaging it was a "proven method of financing" and "seemed to have worked out OK in the past".