There’s much to get the juices flowing as autumn beckons

THE COMING of the August Bank Holiday traditionally heralds the end of summer and by Tuesday morning, the return to work for many of us begins. This year, the early positioning of the holiday weekend means for many there will be a few extra days off, delaying slightly the time before London becomes fully crowded again and starts firing on all cylinders. But nevertheless we will soon be entering the business end of the year, as it were.

This has been a quieter summer than last for our City. 2012 saw the spectacle of the Olympic Games, during which we witnessed some massively inspiring and stupendous sporting achievements.

However, there are always hundreds of attractions in London to keep us busy; the opening of The Shard to visitors, countless activities on the South Bank, the plethora of museums, the theatres, the music festivals and the sporting attractions that we find on our doorstep every day of the week.

During the past few weeks there have been signs of a pick-up in the economy and though this might be overly dependent on the government’s controversial Help to Buy Scheme, there’s a pick up all the same, which is something to be grateful for after such a long period of being in the economic doldrums.

In the City there is much to look forward to. There’s a possible privatisation of Royal Mail, a return to life in the new issues market generally, and a more confident tone about the place. Added to this is the drama of Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who must be the most watched City personality to have graced this town for a long time.

Luckily for London we have so far been spared the technological problems that yesterday forced trading to be suspended on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York, the latest in a spate of IT issues to hit that city’s financial centre.

 For City A.M. the autumn is always an exciting period, as we build up to our awards (this year on 13 November).

The annual awards evening, to be staged again at the Grainge Hotel, St Paul’s, will reward the City’s finest in 15 categories for their success, which helps make the City one of the best to live in in the world.              

Job Done or Half Done?
Edward Bramson, the activist fund manager that strikes fear into company managements, yesterday announced he is stepping down as chairman of F&C.

 Bramson seized control of F&C in a bitter boardroom coup in February 2011 after building up a near 20 per cent stake in the UK’s fourth biggest fund manager.

Since then he has implemented a savage cost-cutting programme and seen a sharp rise in earnings at the group.

The share price has risen accordingly, from 51.5p before his first purchase to 104.5p.

So is it a case of job done, exit stage right and on to the next thing, which could well be an even greater focus on the private equity group 3i in which one of Bransom’s companies owns just over five per cent.

Some think so but there are others who feel the management under Bransom has not been very successful in winning new business in order to achieve strong organic growth.

According to some, Bransom tried to sell his stake in its entirety before deciding last week to distribute it amongst investors in Sherborn, the vehicle formed to buy the stake in the first place.

The autumn will be a key time for F&C, and as Kieran Poynter takes over there are already rumours of more contract losses on the horizon.

Cutting costs at F&C is one thing, but if investors find revenues continuing on a downward path, Bransom’s job at F&C will look less well done.

david.hellier@cityam.com
Follow me on Twitter: @hellierd

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