HARLAN’S LICENCE TO THRILL HIS CITY FANS

NEVER mind capital markets – when clients meet Craig Coben, head of equity capital markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, they are far more interested in talking about when his famous brother, the US author Harlan Coben, is publishing his next novel.

“A lot of the bank’s corporate and private equity clients – ranging from chief executives to chief financial officers – are fans of Harlan’s,” Craig Coben told The Capitalist. “They know his books so well they quote details of the plots to me that even I can’t remember.”

So the senior US private equity figure who emailed Craig Coben excitedly when he noticed a full-colour ad in the New York Times for Harlan’s new book Live Wire will be pleased to hear the “electric, stay-up-all-night thriller” has shot to the top of that newspaper’s bestseller lists after its first week on sale in America, ahead of its UK publication in May.

Craig, 44, is the youngest of the three Coben brothers after Harlan, 49, and Larry, 52, who runs a charity for preserving archaeological sites. Although Craig’s 15 years as a London banker at Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank must have given him plenty of material, he has no plans to collaborate with Harlan on an intricate plot set in the financial world.

“Historically, Harlan has focused on the people and places he knows best, such as New Jersey, to give his novels an authentic feel and tone,” said Coben, who plans to read Live Wire when he is in the States on business later this month.

“I have no input into his books, just as he has no input into what I do. We leave each of our métiers to the professionals.”


MIND THE GAP
KAREN Gerrard from Citigroup walked away from a party last Thursday better-dressed than when she arrived, after winning a £1,000 Savile Row suit voucher by predicting the closing level of the Nasdaq-100 index with deadly accuracy.

Gerrard was joined by 150 young City professionals at the Young Norwood fundraiser at law firm Mayer Brown – including Jerrold Bennett from the Financial Services Authority and Alexandra Pereyra-Achata from Execuzen (pictured above) – where drinks were followed by a panel debate chaired by the BBC’s economics editor Stephanie Flanders.

Lord Sassoon, commercial secretary to the Treasury (right), discussed how the City can contribute to Britain’s economic recovery with Xstrata chief executive Mick Davies and Anthony Alt, deputy chairman of NM Rothschild & Sons, and Sassoon agreed with Alt that the City should invest in SMEs such as the tech firms at Silicon Roundabout to offset the loss of public sector jobs. “It’s deeply shocking there is such a close conjunction between some of the wealthiest and the poorest parts of the UK,” he said.


RINGING THE CHANGES
BUSINESSMAN and philanthropist Dill Faulkes, who made his money in software, is best known for his work to help young people through his educational trust.

But yesterday he stepped in as the principal benefactor for a new set of bells for the City’s parish church on Cornhill, the Christopher Wren-designed St Michael’s.

The 12 bells, which range in size from one to five feet, were laid out yesterday morning and consecrated in an opening ceremony by the Bishop of London Richard Chartres (pictured above striking one of the bells), inscribed with the benefactors’ names.

That’s £195,000 well spent – listen out for the tuneful three-hour peals on Sundays, Saints Days and memorial days.