BETFAIR FOUNDER MULLS PUTTING HIS WINDFALL MILLIONS TO STUD

NEWS that Betfair’s founders Ed Wray and Andrew Black are set to net a potential windfall of £17m apiece from cashing in a tenth of their combined 22.5 per cent stake at the company’s IPO got The Capitalist to thinking yesterday – how might they put that money to good use?

In Black’s case, at least, a few ideas spring to mind. Currently a non-executive director at the company, Black’s intention to retire from the board next month was buried in among the small details of Betfair’s statement yesterday. While several reasons have been mooted for his decision (cold feet about the float’s chances of success, perhaps?), The Capitalist reckons Black may well just fancy a bit more free time to concentrate on his other passion in life – horseracing.

Alongside his interests in Betfair, Black – who’s known to friends as “Bert” – co-owns a racehorse training stables in Cheshire with footballer Michael Owen, and he’s also currently in the middle of trying to build up a 300-acre stud farm in Surrey.

The former, Manor House Stables, has big plans to become the “most successful flat training yard in the country”, according to its website – with work on the next phase of development (a horse swimming pool, veterinary centre and additional barns) well underway. With that, plus the stud farm – where Black earlier this month moved back into his family farmhouse after an extensive year-long refurbishment – a handy £17m could probably go a long way indeed.

DADDY COOL

Warren Buffett has street cred. That’s not something that can often be said of a financier, no matter how successful (actually, usually the opposite rule applies), but it’s official.

Stateside, the blogosphere is alight with talk of a dinner last week between Buffett and hip-hopper Jay-Z, which was apparently organised by Forbes magazine in advance of its publication of the world’s 400 richest people (no, we’re not sure why either).

The visit to Omaha is said to have included a visit to the HQ of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and a trip to the local Hollywood Diner, and it’s certainly impressed Jay-Z’s army of fans.

“I just can’t say how proud and honoured I am as being a hustler myself and seeing are [sic] role model up there,” shouts one on a fan website, Jay-zJournal.com. “This is so BIG! There is no limit for Jay…”

ART ATTACK

Busy times for collectors of Lehman memorabilia, with two separate auctions of the failed bank’s corporate art collection scheduled for the next week or so.

First up is an auction of 160 works at Sotheby’s in New York this Saturday, where pieces by the likes of Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari and Richard Prince are up for grabs, as well as a painting by Julie Mehretu, who was recently commissioned by Goldman to paint a mural for its new headquarters in Manhattan.

A Christie’s auction in London follows on Wednesday next week, where lots include the plaques and signs which adorned Lehman’s walls before its demise.

The proceeds of both are set to go to creditors, though the expected hauls of $10m and £2m respectively aren’t likely to make much of a dent in the hundreds of billions still owing.

NOTE OF CAUTION

An unprecedented level of honesty in the corporate world, courtesy of property investment group New Europe Property Investments (NEPI). The Capitalist was yesterday somewhat bemused to be confronted with an RNS statement from the firm entitled “Cautionary Announcement”.

In fact, NEPI’s caution turned out to be on behalf of shareholders, who the company warned of its intention to undertake a €40m rights issue to fund potential acquisitions.

“If successfully concluded, the negotiations may have a material effect on the price of NEPI’s securities,” it continued, without a hint of the usual lengthy spiel extolling the virtues of the management’s strategic vision. “Accordingly, shareholders of the company are advised to exercise caution when dealing in NEPI’s securities until a further announcement is made…”

THREE PEAKS

Congratulations to the intrepid team from Deloitte, led by Janice Wong, who at the weekend took first place in the annual CARE 3 Peaks Challenge, in association with City A.M.

Deloitte joined six other City teams to scale the three highest peaks in the UK – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – in one day and night, raising £40,000 to support the charity’s work helping poverty-stricken people around the world.

FLYING HIGH

Luxury hotel group Von Essen yesterday launched its latest property in London – Hotel Verta, which is located on the Thames at Battersea and boasts something of an unusual accolade – it’s the only hotel in Europe adjoined to a heliport. More proof that the good times are finally making a comeback.