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EX-BANKING HOTSHOTS DON’T HOLD A GRUDGE

ON the face of it, you’d have thought there would be a good deal of simmering resentment beneath the surface of the outward relationship between Sir James Sassoon – the investment banker-turned-Treasury finance guru-turned-Tory bank adviser – and Financial Service Authority (FSA) chief Hector Sants.

Sassoon last year caused a storm when he authored that Conservative white paper on banking and regulatory reform, the catalyst for the party’s proposed plans to scrap the FSA altogether and blend its powers into the Bank of England. Which, of course, can’t have gone down too well with the regulator’s top dog, with whom he had worked for years in the upper echelons of investment bank UBS.

Sassoon, however, is adamant there’s no bad blood.

“I’ve known Hector for many, many years,” he told The Capitalist last night at a seminar hosted by inter-dealer broker BGC Partners at the Bloomberg HQ on Finsbury Square.

“He has made his feelings on the matter very clear, but the FSA has been very constructive in working with us and so has Hector. He’s definitely not one to hold a grudge.”

And here we were thinking it’d be pistols at dawn.

CLARET AND BLUE
Lord Digby Jones was also on hand at last night’s seminar to give his own ever-forceful opinions on how the UK’s going to get out of its right royal deficit mess.

“I’m surprised Digby even got here at all tonight after all the celebrations,” chuckled BGC’s veteran commentator David Buik, referring to Aston Villa’s 6-4 trouncing of Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday evening. “At least he can enjoy the Carling cup final in the good company of Prince William and the Bank’s own Mervyn King, who are also both avid fans…”

Strangely enough, Digby was only too happy to sing the merits of the aforementioned King as he began his speech. “About your boss,” he began, turning to deputy Bank of England governor Paul Tucker. “I promise I’m not just saying this because he’s a Villa fan, but he’s played an absolute blinder over the past year…”
Always one to give praise where praise is due, eh?

HOT TO TROT
Speaking of dear Digby, The Capitalist hadn’t pegged him as someone to miss out on an evening’s entertainment – so it was a bit of a surprise to see him scoot off immediately after the debate.

That was until a little bird let on that the big-hearted chap had actually hotfooted it to swanky restaurant The Ivy, for his wife Pat’s birthday. Awww.

STAR STRUCK
BGC’s David Buik may be planning to retire in the not-too-distant future, but he’s obviously not losing his touch, since he managed to rope in comic trio Bremner, Bird and Fortune to perform for the firm’s gathered seminar guests.

“We weren’t David’s first choice – he wanted Susan Boyle!” quipped Rory Bremner (left), to giggles from the audience.

But Buik assures me he’d take old-skool comedy over Simon Cowell’s finest any day.

“She sang a good song once, but I’ve no idea how she’s become such a big star,” he chirrups. “I’ve known Rory for 10 years and would get him in to perform every time.”