After years of gloom-mongering and banker-bashing, what better way to acknowledge the role of the City in bringing the economy back to life than to have the finest stars of the Square Mile gather at one of the most impressive new hotels in London – the Grange at St Paul’s – for an evening of good food, wine, catching up with friends old and new, and celebrating the finest the business world has to offer.
Receiving the headline award – the personality of the year – in absentia was the ever-jovial Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who elicited the heartiest cheer of the evening when his prize was announced.
“I’m so glad you agree with me, and I’m glad we are sticking up for financial services,” Boris told the gathered guests via a video link. “I will continue to do so as long as I am Mayor and as long as I have breath in my body.”
WORTH FIGHTING FOR
Sticking up for the financial services industry and wider business community happily became something of a theme for the evening, with former athlete-turned-politician Seb Coe joining in during his keynote speech.
Coe thanked the industry for its help in securing the 2012 Olympics for London, admitting that there had been “a lot of pavement-pounding” on the part of the Olympic bid committee in order to achieve that end.
“Thanks to the City for being willing to stick its head above the parapet and say, yes, this is worth fighting for,” he said, to cheers from the audience.
Mind you, The Capitalist finds it hard to believe that the campaign was as difficult as Coe made out, if his anecdote about Russia’s bid is to be believed.
“Moscow nearly blew its chances in the early days,” Coe joked. “The city’s strapline was “one girl, one night, one vote…”.
Of course, the aim of the evening was to relish the celebrations – and enjoy them our audience did, right down to the good-natured booing of less popular shortlisted candidates. Well, what else can you expect from a City audience? If the Financial Services Authority’s enforcement tsar Margaret Cole – a contender for the lawyer of the year award – hadn’t managed to elicit a few hearty jeers from those she’s supposed to be policing, she wouldn’t have done a very good job, now would she?
Away from the actual awards, compered by TV presenter Katie Derham, guests were treated to music from a classical quartet of glamorous ladies, Raven, and a rock ‘n’roll performance from Berlin-based band The Baseballs.
As City A.M. went to print last night, the hard-core among the attendees were still boogying away in the Grange’s own nightclub, so there’s bound to be a fair few sore heads in the City this morning. But that’s the hallmark of a good party, as we all know so well…
MEET THE JUDGES
Allister joined City A.M. as Editor in early 2008. He chaired our panel of judges.
David joined City A.M. in 2006 and has been a financial journalist for nearly three decades, reporting on M&A, sports business and the media sector.
SLAUGHTER & MAY
Nigel is one of the City’s most respected lawyers and has been a partner at Slaughters since 1982. He recently advised on the sale of Liverpool FC.
Simon has been co-chief executive of independent investment bank Greenhill’s international operation since October 2007.
Alison currently chairs Land Securities and is a non-executive director at Barclays and Man Group.
Simon last month announced he is leaving Goldman Sachs to become finance director at pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.
John began his career at KPMG in 1975 and became the chairman and senior partner of the UK practice four years ago.
Jon founded his new private equity vehicle Better Capital in 2009 after leaving Alchemy Partners following an acrimonious board rift.
Ex-financial journalist Roland founded Finsbury in 1994 and has since built it into one of the largest financial communications groups in the world.
LLOYDS BANKING GROUP
Executive director Truett joined Lloyds in 2003 as a managing director in corporate banking, and joined the board a year later.
CHAIR OF THE WIGLEY REPORT
Bob, chairman of Expansys and Yell, authored a major report in 2008 for Boris Johnson on London’s competitiveness.