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BRIGHT STARS GATHER AT CITY’S ANNUAL OSCARS

THOMSON Reuters rolled out the (imaginary) red carpet yesterday for the annual Extel awards, commonly known as the “Oscars” of the City.

This year’s affair, hosted by perky Today presenter John Humphrys, was decidedly more upbeat than in 2009, when “credit crunch” presenter Axel Threlfall of Thom­son Reuters’ multimedia platform Project Insider quipped that he had been asked to “cut back on the gags”.

Humphrys got proceedings at the Guildhall underway with a spirited start to the annual guessing game, where guests use remote-controlled voting devices to make predictions to laugh over at next year’s bash. According to the financial elite, the FTSE will be over 5,500 in June 2011, while not a single bearish soul foretold a crash down to between 4,000 and 4,500. Now there’s optimism for you.

What wasn’t so optimistic was the ­yearly football bet – given the choice of England, Brazil, Spain or Germany to win the World Cup, just a valiant seven per cent believed Fabio Capello’s team could turn their disastrous performance against the USA into an eventual victory.

RIVAL WARFARE
On the topic of awards, UBS cleaned up on the broker front for the tenth consecutive year (I’m told there’s only one more win to go before the bank equals the record set by James Capel years and years ago). Sanford C. Bernstein’s Andrew Wood collected the equity analyst gong for the fourth time in five years, while BoA Merrill Lynch’s Gerard Zaffran also held on to his trophy for salesperson of the year.

Ringing the changes in a continuing tussle for fund manager supremacy, however, were Fidelity and JP Morgan Asset Management. The pair have been tossing the gong back and forth for a couple of years and this time round saw JP Morgan wresting the award back off its rival.

PAYING TRIBUTE
Host Niall Fitzgerald, the deputy chairman of Thomson Reuters, paid a glowing tribute to the late Sir Brian Pitman, who guest presented an award at last year’s do.

“He was a man who rose from his first job as a jazz trombonist to become one of the most respected bankers in the business,” Fitzgerald said of ex-Lloyds TSB boss Pitman, who had agreed to chair Virgin Money before his death in March. “He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.”

Guest presenting this year were a diverse bunch of finance bigwigs, including the CEBR’s chief executive Doug McWilliams, Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Win Bischoff and Pearsons chairman Glen Moreno, who lightened up proceedings with a tale from the past.

“Two women were walking down the street after the crash of ‘87, when they saw a small frog,” Moreno explained. “When the frog said he was a fund manager who had been cursed by a former client and asked one of them to kiss him and reverse the curse, she put him in her handbag.”

“I figure he’s worth more to me as a talking frog,” she quipped.

2010 THOMSON REUTERS EXTEL PAN-EUROPEAN AWARDS WINNERS
­­● BROKERAGE FIRM FOR EQUITY AND EQUITY-LINKED RESEARCH
UBS

● INDIVIDUAL EQUITY ANALYST
Andrew Wood, Sanford C. Bernstein

● EQUITY SPECIALIST SALESPERSON
Gerard Zaffran, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
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● FUND MANAGEMENT FIRM
JP Morgan Asset Management
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● FUND MANAGEMENT INDIVIDUAL
Peter Lawrence, JP Morgan Asset Management

● HEDGE FUND
Citadel Investment
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● QUOTED FIRM FOR INVESTOR RELATIONS
BASF
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● INVESTOR RELATIONS PROFESSIONAL
Catherine James, Diageo
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● BROKERAGE FIRM FOR UK SMALL CAPS
Investec Securities

● BROKERAGE FIRM FOR SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH
CA Cheuvreux

­­● BROKERAGE FIRM FOR EQUITY AND EQUITY-LINKED SALES
UBS

● BROKERAGE FIRM FOR OPERATIONS
UBS

● BROKERAGE FIRM FOR TRADING AND EXECUTION
UBS