A STERLING spot by one of The Capitalist’s army of spies yesterday, on the way to a meeting at an office building on Old Burlington Street.
Stepping out of the lift in the building were none other than beleaguered BP chief executive Tony Hayward and his finance director Byron Grote – taking some time out from the mammoth clean-up operation in the Gulf of Mexico, where one of their company’s wells is still spewing thousands of barrels of the black stuff into the sea every day.
Normally, of course, a pair of top businessmen heading out for a meeting would barely ruffle a feather. But that’s before we take stock of the companies currently residing in swanky Queensbury House.
Centrica, the oil and gas giant, is one which could certainly lead to a raised eyebrow given the recent speculation that BP’s crashing share price could make it a takeover target in the wake of the oil spill disaster.
Unfortunately, Centrica assures me that no meetings were scheduled to take place between Hayward and its staff yesterday, though we are left with another intriguing possibility. Queensbury House is also home to Korn/Ferry-owned executive recruitment firm Whitehead Mann – headed up in London by über-schmoozer Anthony Vardy.
Could it be that heads are already positioned to roll at BP over the Gulf disaster?
More joy for Canary Wharf-based foodies this week, as the Boisdale Scottish restaurant group has finally signed on the dotted line for its new premises, a 12,000 sq ft monster overlooking Cabot Square.
Boisdale – which is hugely popular with the City and West End crowds at its established venues in Belgravia and on Bishopsgate – has been sniffing around the new digs for what seems like years prior to finalising the deal. But it appears the new restaurant will be worth the wait, with a capacity of 430 covers set over two floors and, happily for the smokers out there, a spacious cigar terrace.
The traditional menu won’t come cheap – classics include a 28 day aged 10oz Aberdeenshire beef fillet with a fried duck egg, black truffle shavings, duck fat chips and baby spinach for £45.50, while the Bishopsgate restaurant recently made headlines for offering a rare gull’s egg omelette with lobster, crab, truffles and asparagus for £90.
Boisdale founder Ranald Macdonald is also introducing the group’s trademark extensive fine whisky collection, private dining rooms and a stage for nightly live jazz, blues and soul performances.
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then the way to a lady’s is certainly with diamonds – a fact City boys might like to take on board when agonising over the next birthday/anniversary gift for their better halves.
Diamonds with a twist might be a better way of putting it – regular readers may recall the company, Capital Mining, which earlier this year started selling off the mining rights to 225 sq ft chunks of land at its diamond prospect in Sierra Leone.
A few months in, and around a tenth of the plots have been sold, though potential investors might be interested to learn that digging has now commenced and the average number of carats coming out of each square currently stands at 10.4.
Of course, that doesn’t guarantee you a thing – chairman Robert McKendrick is the first to admit that it’s a “lottery”. But buying a diamond mine – for just £3,000 a pop – sure does lend your investment portfolio a certain sparkle.
PIECE OF HISTORY
Bankers eager to snatch a slice of their profession’s history should clear space in their diaries this evening to pop down to the Ronald Phillips gallery on Bruton Street.
The gallery is unveiling a sale exhibition of rare mirrors worth over £12m in total, including one looking glass previously owned by US financier John Pierpont Morgan – the original JP Morgan – who lived between 1837 and 1913.
The asking price, for those serious about snapping up said artefact, is a princely £85,000.
It was skin-tight yellow rather than neon pink lycra this year for Eric Newnham, the chairman of WPP’s outdoor advertising arm Kinetic, who is now back in the office after leading his team’s annual charity bike ride over the weekend.
Eight colleagues and 16 worthy hangers-on from clients and agencies took part in this year’s 348 mile cycle from Paddington to Brighton, raising almost £25,000 for St Dunstan’s, a charity supporting blind and visually impaired ex-servicemen and women.
Any further donations welcome at www.justgiving.com/eric-newnham.