MARTIN Broughton, the Liverpool FC chairman who brokered the deal to sell the troubled club to the owners of the Boston Red Sox last month, was back where he feels most comfortable this week. Broughton was spotted walking out of Stamford Bridge after watching his beloved Chelsea beat Spartak Moscow. But Broughton, who will ease himself out of Liverpool once the new owners are fully ensconced, has a diplomatic issue to sort out before the weekend when Chelsea visit Liverpool. Last season, the wily businessman, who is also British Airways chairman, absented himself from the corresponding fixture when Chelsea needed to win to come close to tying up the Premiership. But this time Broughton can’t bring himself to stay away. The Capitalist understands that he is intent on travelling to Anfield for the Sunday afternoon fixture but he will be keeping a “low profile”. No singing Blue is the Colour for the Liverpool chairman then.
To the aptly named Vertigo at Tower 42, where guests of S&P Securities Evaluation’s risk-to-price cocktail party reported popped ears and slightly queasy stomachs after the whiz up the elevator deposited them so close to the bar’s stunning, wraparound view over the City. The Capitalist has to admit that swiftly refilled champagne flutes and a sparkling, vertiginous view make for a heady mix – but what better way to enjoy the sights of London than from forty floors above them? S&P Securities Evaluation MD Damian Burleigh kicked off the evening, advising the crowd of bankers and investment managers that the setting – in Vertigo’s narrow circular bar – was apt to demonstrate that “there’s always a blind spot” (one can only hope the firm’s risk pricing advice comes with the same practical twist). Economist Tim Congdon, meanwhile, was keen to regale the crowd with some poetry, reciting a work by 19th century banker Lord Overstone on economic cycles. “The problem of pricing bits of paper has been around for a long time,” he summarised. “But of course, S&P will do a great job for you.” Ever the gracious guest, Professor.
City folk might have noticed an unusually high number of poppies dispersed throughout the Square Mile yesterday – but it was no accident. Five years ago, Aon insurance’s Ben Hancock was fresh out of the army after 11 years’ service, having just moved to his job in the City. “The first winter, I noticed there weren’t many people wearing poppies, so I grabbed five of the old muckers [from the army] and came here to sell them,” he told The Capitalist in busy Leadenhall Market, where servicemen and women were gathered to grab a pint between shifts of poppy-selling. This year marks the fifth time that Hancock has organised for serving infantry to come into the City in uniform and sell poppies. “Seeing young guys in uniform is such a powerful message,” he says, “and seeing them standing side by side with young guys in the City – it’s the good old military principle of concentration of force.” It seems to be working. This year the poppy sellers have expanded to include those in the navy and airforce to beat last year’s record fund-raising of £60,000 in a day. With 450 sellers from Paddington to Canary Wharf, Hancock is confident: “At lunchtime we had £15,000 in Canary Wharf alone, from 120 sellers,” he said. City A.M. proudly displays a poppy on its front page. Keep buying!
GIVING IT AWAY
The great and good of the City philanthropy world gathered for a three-course banquet yesterday as JM Finn launched its 2010 Charity Performance Guide. The 1,192-page guide offers the latest financial information on charity investment managers, legal advisers, auditors, trustees and funds and was launched at a meal for some 50 trustees of different charities around the UK hosted by JM Finn’s head of charities John Dale. The issue at stake was the shrinkage of charitable funds over the last year, with overall assets declining 2.5 per cent as hard-pressed philanthropists withdraw their funds for other requirements. Over salmon and steak, the various trustees and non-profit professionals heard economist Chris Watling of Longview Economics warn of a bond bubble in the wake of the Fed’s quantitative easing programme. “The hot money is running into bonds. You always want to do the opposite of what the central bank says,” he advised, to some rather disgruntled bond investors among the gathered trustees. But it was on emerging markets that he hit his stride. “South Korea has proved it can grow,” he said. “Nigeria still hasn’t proved it.” News to JM Finn’s Anthony Eaton, head of the firm’s African investments, who flashed a cheerful smile. He’s off to Nigeria in just a couple of weeks to check up on that unproven growth.
JOCKEYING FOR FUNDS
Irish City supremo Basil Geoghegan was on the prowl for his countrymen this week, inviting JP Morgan Cazenove employees up to the seventh floor of the firm’s Moorgate building for an event to promote the Irish Fund of Great Britain (IFGB), supported by City bankers like Goldman Sachs’ Michael Casey and Lazards’ Peter Kiernan. Geoghegan was keen to discuss the great triumphs and downfalls of Irish colleagues in the City and to promote the Irish members’ network, whose reach extends from New York to Singapore. And Irishmen and women are keeping a keen eye out for the group’s next event, featuring ex-jockey and racing commentator Mick Fitzgerald.