AURUM FUNDS CHIEF FLIES OUT TO OVERSEE ARK’S AFRICAN LAUNCH

HEDGE FUND manager Kevin Gundle, the chief executive of Aurum Funds, has been away from his desk since last Thursday.

He was in Zambia, The Capitalist hears, where as a founding trustee of Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), the charity set up by the philanthropist financiers Ian Wace and Arki Busson, he has been busy dispensing, not generating, City profits.

Gundle, who flew back from sub-Saharan Africa yesterday afternoon, spent that morning in the town of Kalikiliki in Lusaka Province, where he oversaw the first vaccination in the charity’s programme to combat infant mortality caused by the Rotavirus, run in partnership with Zambia’s Centre for Infectious Disease Research.

Ark committed $5.7m towards the three-year partnership after its annual fundraising gala last June, when the Department for International Development matched the charity’s $1.6m vaccines pledge, the foundation run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda donated $3.8m, and GSK committed to supplying 84,000 vaccines.

Ark has since been working on preparatory health and education work to “lay the foundations” of its programme to vaccinate 750,000 children – but yesterday, said Gundle in an email to the global board, was “only the beginning”.

“We have the opportunity to do so much more,” he wrote to Wace, Busson and his seven fellow founding trustees, who include Jennifer Moses, the ex-Goldman investment banker and special adviser to Gordon Brown, and Anthony Williams, head of the specialist solar infrastructure asset manager Bluefield Partners. “In Zambia I saw Ark at its best, but that won’t stop me from pushing us to do more and better.”

MATCH OF THE DAY
ALSO ON the Ark global board is Michael Platt, the founder of the $30bn hedge fund BlueCrest Capital, which yesterday hosted a chess tournament in Geneva.

Among the players was Icap’s options and futures trader Ryad Belabdelouahab, a former professional chess player, who challenged the seven-times world chess champion Anatoly Karpov following matches with the game’s world number two Vladimir Kramnik and grand masters Alexander Cherniaev and Gilles Miralles.

In the last update from Geneva last night, Belabdelouahab and Karpov – who drew on their last meeting in December – were still deep in play.

CITY COMEBACK
THEN-CHIEF executive Hector Sants wanted to keep him, but John Harriman quit Credit Suisse First Boston of his own accord eight years ago for a “change of scene”: returning to a life as a professional musician, after spending his formative years as head chorister at Westminster Cathedral Choir and a soloist for the Royal Opera Group.

And on Thursday night, the former banking adviser (above right) is making a comeback to Canary Wharf to top the bill with his jazz band Heads South at Boisdale, within earshot of his old offices at 1 Cabot Square.

Harriman, who leads the Cuban quintet as its composer and pianist, is hoping the prospect of “mostly original music” will persuade several of his former senior associates in the City to come along. If it’s good enough for Rod Stewart and his “exclusive guests”, whom Harriman recently entertained at the O2, then it’s good enough for his old Credit Suisse colleagues – even if one of them has since moved on to run the FSA…

ASSET STRIPPERS
IF YOU see Genesis Asset Management’s new hire Chris Ellyatt holding a gun to the head of his former boss Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management on 3 February, don’t be too alarmed.

The armed raid on Ellyatt’s old employer Aberdeen Asset Management is a water pistol hold-up to collect all the fund managers’ spare change to support Bowel & Cancer Research and EveryChild.

“For them it is just loose change gathering dust on their desks; for us it is a few hours of research,” says the cancer charity’s Deborah Gilbert (no relation to Martin), who is planning a similar raid on the banks of Canary Wharf in March. Ellyatt, you will be pleased to hear, “has some firms in mind”.