CITY GYM LAUNCHES FAT BANKER CHALLENGE

HOT ON the heels of last week’s much-lauded “Best Dressed Banker” award, and The Capitalist’s own rundown of the top ten hunkiest gents and loveliest ladies in the City, published in the summer, comes another, err, extra-curricular competition for London’s financiers.

Matt Roberts, personal trainer to the stars, is on a mission to help the City get healthier and into shape – which explains why his personal training club on Cornhill is offering a fitness package worth £1,600 free to two of the fattest bankers in the business.

The challenge? Said chubby bankers must go head to head against each other to see who can get the best results in eight weeks, with any sponsorship money from their efforts going to charity.

Two hard-core personal training sessions a week will be supplemented by two compulsory workouts off our corpulent friends’ own backs, plus (cue wagging accusatory finger) a “strict dietary regime”.

That’s put paid to any more steak-and-red wine lunches at Gaucho, then.

LEGAL EAGLES

Much excitement over at law firm Clifford Chance, which began voting earlier this week on a successor to current senior partner Stuart Popham, who’s stepping down at the end of the year.

The three candidates who’ve tossed their names into the hat are tax partner Jonathan Elman, banking and finance partner Malcolm Sweeting and Daniela Weber Rey, a German partner – who would be the first woman ever to hold the hallowed position within the firm’s ranks.

But while there are still over two weeks of voting to go, The Capitalist hears early indications from friends at the firm that the historic election of a lady to the top job is unlikely to come to fruition. Apparently, the smart money’s on Sweeting – who ticks all the boxes as a jovial chap who also works in the sought-after area of finance…

HORSING AROUND

A sterling show of loyalty from Irish racing billionaire John Magnier over the past few days at the Tattersalls October yearling sale at Newmarket.

As a crowd of racing and business moguls – including Magnier’s racing investment partners JP McManus and Michael Tabor and Eddie Stobart group chief executive Andrew Tinkler – gathered to coo over the finest fillies and colts, it was Magnier who put his money where his mouth is.

After stumping up £1.2m for one filly on Tuesday – a three-year record high price for a yearling sale – the Irish tycoon yesterday added another new filly to his stable for £900,000.

Both young’uns were bred from Magnier’s own horse Galileo, so he’s keeping things happily in the family.

TWIST IN THE TALE

Much humming and hah-ing in the City yesterday over a peculiar twist in the tale of Liverpool FC’s sale to New England Ventures, owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton is being advised on the sale by Barclays Capital, headed by Bob Diamond – who is himself, of course, an avowed Red Sox fanatic. How very convenient.

FESTIVAL VIBE

A date for the diaries of musically-inclined City types: 22 October, when poverty charity Oxfam is bringing its month-long “Oxjam” festival of music to the City. Leadenhall Market is going to be hosting the main rock and acoustic stage, featuring 35 London and South East bands over 12 hours, including The Roolettes, The Obscuritones, Zen Motel, Cavilry and The Weller Collective.

The organisers are hoping to raise £4,000 on the night – which should inspire enthusiasts to get down there and boogie.

SUM TOTAL

So, Henry Kravis – one of the founders of private equity giant Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts – has doled out a stonking $100m (£63m) to his former university, the Columbia Business School, to put towards an all-singing, all-dancing new campus, one of whose buildings will be named after him.

That hefty sum matches a donation made by Steve Schwarzman – the Blackstone Group founder – to the New York Public Library a couple of years ago.

Next up on the tit-for-tat list for Kravis – a kindly corporate biography, along the same vein as the newly-released “King of Capital”, which has just been published about Blackstone and aims (according to early reviews) to show that the firm was a disciplined and risk-aware investor in the crisis.

KKR’s contribution to literary history, by contrast, is so far limited to the best-seller about the firm’s 1989 takeover of RJR Nabisco, with the not-so-complimentary title “Barbarians at the Gate”.

LORD OF THE DANCE

Speaking of the new Blackstone book, there have been a few gems to come out of Kings of Capital up to now. We all knew that Steve Schwarzman was a colourful character, of course – he did, after all, recently cause a furore by comparing President Obama’s Wall Street tax reforms to the Nazi invasion of Poland. But did anyone ever expect that the private equity mogul was a lover of the ballet?

According to the book, Schwarzman started up a club while he was in his first year at Yale, the Davenport Ballet Society (named after his residential college) – arranging for members to see a dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet and organising a dance festival. One acquaintance describes Schwarzman’s attachment to the ballet as “an excuse to meet girls”. Ever the shrewd operator, eh?