AFTER over 200 years providing services to the City of London, it was a sad farewell yesterday to the oldest stockbroking name in the Square Mile.
The origins of Hichens Harrison can be traced back to at least 1803, when it was in business shortly following the formation of the Stock Exchange, though the exact date of its conception is not known.
The firm was bought out two years ago by Religare, the Indian financial services giant run by billionaires Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, for £55m. Its name was subsequently changed to Religare Hichens Harrison – a label the firm retained until yesterday, when Religare announced it was scrapping the Hichens tag in favour of renaming the business under its global Religare Capital Markets brand.
Religare insists that the reason for the rebrand is to “avoid confusion as to who owns the firm” and to build on the sway held by its own name internationally – though it insists it will keep hold of the rights to the Hichens moniker rather than sell it off for a tidy sum to one of its rivals. “The name carried a lot of clout and a huge number of people will be very sad to see it go,” one City chum sniffs, full of regret.
Yet our financial industry has proved great at reinventing itself in the past and the birth of a new Indian-owned, London-based finance house suggests this remains so. Trade minister Lord Davies “welcomed” the move, which comes alongside a pledge from the firm to double its staff in London over three years. Perhaps all’s well that ends well after all.
Receivers of the round-robin research note published by analyst Mark Brumby, famed for his daily spiels on the minutiae of City life, may have noticed a change to yesterday’s communiqué.
For Brumby – formerly of Astaire Securities – has quietly left the firm to start up his own firm, Langton Capital, without so much as a change in font on the daily missive.
“Yes, I’m now working from home on Langton until I get my new office in Spitalfields, which should hopefully be in a few weeks,” Brumby tells me. “It’s a team of one at the moment so there are very few arguments, but I will perhaps be looking to hire later in the year…” One to keep an eye on.
Joy and disappointment for the business boys at Cheltenham yesterday in the much-anticipated RSA Chase.
Amateur jockey Sam Waley Cohen – the former Louis Dreyfus commodities trader-turned-private dental care entrepreneur – was denied victory in the race atop Long Run, one of two horses tipped to win along with Punchestowns. He was pipped to the post by Weapon’s Amnesty – owned by none other than Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary (left), one of the Festival’s main sponsors, who takes the lion’s share of the £150,000 prize money pot.
“It was unbelievable, I didn’t think we had any chance,” gushes O’Leary, taking time out from goading his arch-rival, easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
“It was a brilliant ride by Davy Russell and I think he’s proved today what a fantastic jockey he is.”
Celebrations seem to be in order.
RINGING THE CHANGES
Media types should perk up their ears at the mention of another high-profile move over at the Sunday Times, which has been looking for a deputy business editor ever since Dominic O’Connell stepped into the business editor’s shoes earlier this year following John Waples’ departure for Financial Dynamics.
I hear that the job has now been filled by insider favourite Iain Dey, a veteran of the Sunday Telegraph and Scotland on Sunday, who has been busy moving his things over to his new desk over the past few days...
A nifty solution to a problem probably experienced by a large number of busy financial sector workers, courtesy of Tulchan Communications spinner Stephen Malthouse.
I hear Malthouse, the proud owner of Dasher, his pet Lurcher (a type of greyhound), is a keen advocate of niche company London Doggies – which specialises in providing daycare for your pet pooch, taking the pressure off when the demands of work pile up. “Dasher goes a couple of times a week,” he says. “They pick up your dog, take it for walks and bring it back tired and happy at the end of the day…”
At just £25 a day, something tells me the firm will have a few more contented City customers before too much longer – especially since it also offers a “doggie hotel” service to look after dogs overnight.
“The Doggie Hotel is a ‘cage-free’ environment, with 16 individual rooms for its much loved guests, who sleep separately on their exclusive raised beds with duvets,” spouts the firm’s website. Is it wrong to feel mildly jealous of your pooch?
GOING GETS TOUGH
Into the inbox zooms perhaps the worst example of marketing The Capitalist has ever seen, from commodity hedge fund Ebullio Capital Management.
“February 2010 was the worst month in the history of the Ebullio Commodity Fund and we regret to report a return of –86.25 per cent for the month, which brings our total return for the year to –95.83 per cent,” begins the update, cheerfully. “Most managers would probably try to hush this up, but we have always been about transparency and having broadcast our winning months, we are going to do the same with our (albeit quite a lot more spectacular) losers…”
A bizarre strategy indeed – particularly as the note also contains graphic evidence of just how poorly the fund has performed (see below), as well as the claim that over the last couple of months, “a clear picture of complete confusion has emerged” (eh?).
The two-page missive concludes with a jolly observation that Ebullio has “obviously had a tough couple of months and has come to realise with Bad Blake (played by Oscar-winning Jeff Bridges) in ‘Crazy Heart’: ‘You don’t see it coming until it’s gone…’” You really couldn’t make it up.