David Hellier
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CITY bankers are not usually backwards in coming forwards when it comes to getting publicity for their transactions, so why the reticence yesterday when it came to taking the credit for Manchester United’s £500m bond issue.

United’s initial press release was as brief as could possibly be, with no mention even of the banks involved in advising on the issue.

A spokesman for the football club said: “I think the secrecy is all down to the US regulatory authorities. I think I’d be sent to Guantanamo Bay if I divulged any more information,” when pressed on which bankers had been working on the deal.

Further investigation revealed a slightly more detailed announcement, which revealed as underwriters JP?Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, state-owned RBS (will Manchester City-supporting taxpayers be all that happy that one of their banks is supporting the opposition?) and KKR.

So which individuals at these esteemed institutions put the deal together and which clubs do they support, the Capitalist naturally wanted to know?

You might have thought that was a simple enough question but it was one one which seemed too difficult or sensitive for some of the banks’ press departments to answer.

When asked by the Capitalist to give further details, Deutsche Bank spokesman David Wells said: “I’m not commenting at all, I’m not going to comment about anything,” and finally, “I’m not going to have an answer to that.”

Maybe the banks involved are mindful of what happened when the Glazer family first showed an interest in acquiring Manchester United in 2003.

Later, a handful of fans targeted some of the City advisers, including public relations giant Brunswick, and staged demonstrations and ordered spoof pizza deliveries. They were unhappy with the size of the debts the club was having to take on as part of the deal and have subsequently faced sharp increases in ticket prices.

Restaurant critic Richard Harden, who along with brother Peter has just brought out the latest Harden’s annual UK Restaurant Guide, admits to being surprised by the popularity of Jamie Oliver’s new chain, Jamie’s Italian.

Harden says there was a surprising level of satisfaction about the chain, which has a site in Canary Wharf, with one to open in Covent Garden later this year.

Says Harden: “Over nearly two decades now, our surveys of regular restaurant goers have tended to produce a clear thumbs down for spin-off ventures from celebrity chefs. Given this past ‘form’, it’s impressive what a warm welcome survey reporters have given to Jamie Oliver’s new chain.

“This is the first time in living memory a multiple venture branded with the name of the celebrity chef has made a really positive contribution to the world of dining out!”

Top gastronomic experience goes to Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, while the best for business category goes to The Wolseley.

Next best for business is the Bleeding Heart, an old favourite, and then The Don.

Now that the pressure is off him at Barclays, the veteran investment banker Marcus Agius has found the time to become chairman of the board of trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

During the heat of the credit crunch, Agius, chairman of Barclays Bank, was forced to work overtime to reassure the markets that the bank had a future.

There was a time when Agius was at his wit’s end trying to get a fair hearing from a sceptical stock market. But as time has worn on, Barclays and Agius have been seen as winners of the credit crunch.

Agius said yesterday: “It is a great privilege to start the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

“ In the years that I have been involved with Kew, it has been inspiring to see the organisation focus on playing an increasing role in addressing the big environmental challenges we are facing, such as biodiversity loss and climate change.” Agius, who was formerly chairman of Lazard in London, is also the senior independent executive director at the BBC.

After Canon David Parrott blessed the iPhones of congregants at St Lawrence Jewry church, next to the Guildhall, yesterday, Lord Mayor Nick Anstee read a passage from the bible starting: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Presumably with a degree of irony given some City bonuses will be announced this week.
• Victoria Bates is away.