views

CITY OUT IN FORCE FOR MARATHON SUNDAY

TENS of thousands of runners completed the London Marathon yesterday, braving 26 miles of light rain showers to get round the gruelling course.

As usual, the business world’s athletic contingent did themselves proud in the race, including Sir Richard Branson, who made it round in just over five hours to celebrate Virgin’s first year sponsoring the marathon, despite an uncomfortable butterfly costume and having to give high fives to virtually every fellow runner and spectator in London.

The City’s own Lord Mayor, Nick Anstee, put in a stellar time of 4 hours 36 minutes, having been up at 6am every morning for much of the past half a year training on the banks of the Thames. Anstee must be used to the blood, sweat and tears by now, since yesterday was his sixteenth London marathon (ouch).

Among the other City folk pounding the pavements were Rothschild’s Duncan Wilmer, who managed to break the four-hour mark with a time of three hours and 58 seconds, and Stephen Atkinson, investor relations director at Standard Chartered, whose time of three hours and 51 second was all the more impressive since he completed the entire course blindfolded, in aid of charity Seeing is Believing. A generous thumbs up, too, to Atkinson’s brave colleague Gregg Powell, for leading him around the race in such an impressive time.

To all – whether dressed up as Darth Vader, a bottle of London Pride or themselves – an almighty clap on the back!

IN THE BALANCE
In all the hubbub surrounding the Goldman Sachs email evidence released by a Senate subcommittee at the weekend, including exchanges between chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and other members of the bank’s top brass, a little gem has been somewhat overlooked.

Many are the hacks who have been on the receiving end of Goldman chief spinner Lucas van Praag’s sharp tongue in the past, so it did prompt a chuckle to see the following line appear in print, taken from an email from van Praag to Blankfein himself.

“Tomorrow’s story will, of course, have ‘balance’,” van Praag warned, “ie, stuff we don’t like…”

WINNING STREAK
Happily for those receiving the monthly investors’ guide from UBS Wealth Management Research, the team have finally indulged their less serious side and put their usual predictions on the result of this summer’s football World Cup.

UBS Wealth Management, avid followers might remember, has something of a track record in this field, having picked Italy as the world champions in 2006 and also predicted six of the eight quarter-finalists correctly. (That was all dashed in the European championships in 2008, when the firm’s predicted winner, the Czech Republic, didn’t even make it to the second round, but let’s gloss over that minor detail.)

This time around, chief economist Andreas Höfert’s money is on Brazil for a winner, the country which its “statistical model” predicts has a 22 per cent chance of lifting the trophy.

Germany comes second with 18 per cent (yes, yes, I know – boo, hiss…), Italy is the firm’s third most likely contender with 13 per cent, and England gets a pretty poor look-in with just a 4 per cent chance of topping the table.

Let us hope the firm’s modelling tools aren’t quite so successful this time around.