It must be time for another holiday

David Hellier
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If the UK’s economy was really as severely dented by the numerous bank holidays in April as some say, let us hope the nation as a whole doesn’t follow David Cameron in his holidaying habits.

Never mind the UK’s faltering growth, the US debt deal or the worsening of the Eurozone crisis. The Prime Minister, who is currently in Tuscany for a fortnight, is said to be planning another short break soon after he returns to London in mid-August. He’s already had two other holidays this year.

From my (admittedly hazy) memory, the Prime Minister used to have a rather relaxed approach to his working life, which doesn’t mean he necessarily did a bad job. Just that he was rather laid back in the way he did it.

When I knew him as head of press for the broadcaster Carlton Communications, Cameron was often put on the back foot by his far spikier rivals at BSkyB.

At the time Carlton was trying to launch its part-owned pay television service ONdigital but found itself up against some pretty heavy briefings from Sky, which Cameron branded “super aggressive”. His approach was most often to appeal to Sky to soften its attacks rather than to ramp up his own efforts.

Of course, as a holidaying PM, Cameron is still not in the league of Tony Blair in terms of his choice of luxurious destinations or colourful holiday companions. Blair, I am told, made one thing very clear to those who wished to work for him in his communications office. He insisted on taking frequent holidays, often to exotic places, and with hosts that might not be natural Labour types. Who can forget those holiday snaps from the Caribbean with Blair wearing the swimming trunks of Credit Suisse banker Russell Chambers?

Things are not so conducive to ministerial tourism in Spain, though, where Prime Minister Jose Zapatero has delayed a planned holiday as the yields on his country’s bonds reach ever higher levels. Luckily for Cameron, the UK’s borrowing costs yesterday touched a 50 year low. That next holiday should be safe.

In the past couple of years, RBC Capital Markets, which is part of the Royal Bank of Canada, has been busy boosting its presence in the London equities market, winning corporate clients like Clive Cowdery’s Resolution Group.

Yesterday proved that it is a major force to be reckoned with. RBC, rather than JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs or any of the other favourites, was sole adviser to Li Ka-Shing’s acquisition of Northumbrian Water, the largest deal of the year so far in the UK.

RBC currently ranks number 28 on Dealogic’s table of mergers & acquisitions advisers in the year to date, but the current deal will unquestionably give it a massive shove up the table.

Former Goldman Sachs banker Joshua Critchley has done a massive job in building the franchise, hiring from all parts of the corporate advisory sector.

The water deal itself was led by Dai Clement. RBC has known Li Ka-Shing’s CKI for a number of years and has also advised on a number of other, smaller water transactions in the past few years. The deal is mainly a straightforward advisory one for RBC although it will also be underwriting some financing.

Allister Heath is away.