HOW can money be the same as gas? It’s a good question, and one that bankers were giving serious thought yesterday at a lunchtime talk at Clifford Chance by Clare Spottiswoode, member of the Independent Commission on Banking.

The former gas regulator had been briefed to update 34 high-powered bankers, including Antony Jenkins, group chief executive of global retail banking at Barclays; Dame Mary Marsh, director of HSBC; and Richard Doe, chief executive of ING Direct, on the ICB’s policies.

However, Spottiswoode’s colourful utilities past meant many of her examples to support her arguments for more competition in banking were about gas, leaving the money men struggling to relate as they digested their three-course lunch.

But the briefing wasn’t just hot air. Even though the bankers “gave as good as they got”, according to a source, they insisted they were unafraid of new banks entering the market. As long as the sector remains profitable so it survives, that is.

MEANWHILE, Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond dropped in to Clifford Chance that same morning for breakfast.

Diamond was short on time – he had to prepare for hosting last night’s cocktail party at his Chelsea home for New York Democrat senator Kirsten Gillibrand – but he managed to tell 12 top lawyers why they should support the Mayor’s Fund for London, of which he is a personal donor.

The briefing notes stressed there was “definitely no obligation to donate”, but The Capitalist hears the high-rolling guests have all been approached for £50,000, which would make them a corporate sponsor of the fund and a member of Boris Johnson’s MFL Business Club.

Let’s hope the exclusive guest list from Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Clifford Chance, Olswang and Simmons & Simmons cough up.

NEVER mind the numbers, the highlights of Panther Securities’ preliminary results are the notes by chairman Andrew Perloff, in which he asks shareholders to support the company’s £25,000 donation to the Tory party to prevent “the old bunch of spendthrifts taking over the country’s finances again”.

Perloff also defends bankers’ bonuses, claiming they benefit the country at large. “A million-pound bonus earner provides the pensions for 150 little old ladies, wherewithal for 75 asylum seekers or the education of 150 other people’s children.”

An elaborate way of justifying the £8m bonus hike for Panthers’ directors in 2010 perhaps, but an effective one nonetheless.

ACCOUNTANCY giant PwC doesn’t like to share – especially not its annual tennis weekend at the Five Lakes resort in Essex, where it usually has the run of the place.
So imagine the 40 accountants’ horror when they turned up, tennis rackets in hand, only to discover the hotel had double-booked the courts with rival KPMG.

Relations were initially frosty, with KPMG declining the offer of a joint tennis challenge, but – helped by lashings of alcohol – they later accepted the invitation to PwC’s fancy dress party (senior manager at PwC Andy Collings pictured left). “It’s a small world in accounting,” said a mole, who stayed to the 3am end.