LONDON mayor Boris Johnson played host to a star-studded launch for the corporate sponsors of the charitable Mayor’s Fund for London yesterday morning, with grandees of the City treated to an 8am poached egg and salmon breakfast in return for their paid-up membership of the London Business Club – an organisation for fund donors.
The newly refurbished Savoy played host to the likes of ITIS and Streetcar chairman Sir Trevor Chinn, Goldman Sachs head of economics Jim O’Neill and former chief economist and deputy chairman of Man Group Stanley Fink. They were rubbing shoulders along the breakfast table with incoming Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond, who flipped open his chequebook to deliver a £50,000 donation over the meal.
It certainly is a busy week for Boris, who is set to attend the illumination of the eighth Chanukah candle in the giant Trafalgar Square menorah this evening and, in a multicultural twist, to host his own Christmas carol-singing service on Monday.
As for the welcome prepared for his corporate friends yesterday, Boris was effusive, and tried to put on a brave face regarding London’s prospects as a business hub: “Selling London as a financial centre is slightly easier than selling Egypt as a tourist destination,” he pointed out.
After the fifth shark attack at Sharm el-Sheikh this week, he might well be right – though it’s a rather different kind of shark.
Everything every-hair last night for the Christmas party of the newly merged partners T-Mobile and Orange.
As revealed by The Capitalist last month, Irish entertainment duo and former X Factor wannabes Jedward were booked for the event, showing that even the most tuneless acts can eke out a career if there are enough corporates around.
With the pair dutifully dyeing their hair fluorescent red and orange for the gig to match the companies’ different-coloured branding, The Capitalist had to wonder whether funereal black might have been more appropriate colour for a couple of Irish twins on the day their country voted through one of the most severe budgets in its history.
Still, with one in three young Irish men out of work at present, perhaps Jedward’s continued employment is indeed something to celebrate.
Who said accountants were boring?
The charitable Christmas pantomime team at PricewaterhouseCoopers has been proving otherwise for 25 years now, and this year is no exception.
Yesterday saw the annual carol singers – who double as the panto staff – install themselves at PwC’s reception, serenading thousands of their fellow staff as they arrived at work – though their song list wasn’t necessary traditional festive fair, including Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”.
With retired security guard John Major coming out of retirement to shake the collection bucket, PwC staffers were feeling generous: the bucket was already half-full by 8.30am, with a fair few twenties stuffed into it.
The panto staff will now be singing for two to three mornings each week to raise money for local charities, before they begin their week-long run in late January at the Peacock Theatre.
Last year’s Snow White featured the delectable Niamh Anderson, from PwC’s London office, pictured above feeding a (we hope not poisoned) apple to panto director Brian Henderson. The panto last year entertained an impressive 9,000 people over the course of the week.
This week’s theme? A salutory lesson for an auditing and accounting firm checking up on its clients’ numbers: Pinocchio.
ART OF FINANCE
Those bankers staring longingly out the window imagining their escape from the City now have an inspiring – or, perhaps, depressing – example to follow. Former VP of Citibank in Spain and Brazil Thomas Ostenberg was flying high in his finance career before he decided to chuck it all in and strike out as an artist.
Now he’s bringing his new work to the heart of the City with an exhibition at the Mint Leaf on 21 December. His works, one of which is going for £100,000, are mostly bronze sculptures of horses and people on carts and in wheels with names that could have come out of his old management textbook at Citi: “Mind over Matter”, “But I Feel Fine” and – one hopes not – “Wing and a Prayer”.
As for those wondering what it’s like to move from finance to art, there’s “In Search of Myself”, a sculpture of a woman doing a handstand on a moving horse. It might not be an easy journey…
Pennies, the charitable scheme that last month signed up Domino’s Pizza, has gained another retailer on its books. Travelodge has said that it will adopt the system, which allows those paying for their stay by card to round up their payment, with 75 per cent of the pennies gained shared between a group of charities that includes Cancer Research UK and KidsOut. Meanwhile, since bringing on Domino’s, Pennies itself has transferred over its first donations to its chosen charity, the Special Olympics: £7,609. Not bad for a few weeks’ work.
With former prime minister Gordon Brown launching his book at the London School of Economics yesterday, it seems the Conservative press office is having a hard time letting a good thing go. “BREAKING NEWS,” came the tweet from its Twitter handle @ToryPressHQ yesterday, “Something exciting found in Brown's book – a typo in the acknowledgements.”
Now, now, kids.