HOW poor old Liam Byrne must now be regretting his decision to leave his successor David Laws a sardonic little note of welcome in the office of the chief secretary to the Treasury.
“Dear chief secretary,” the note read, “I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards and good luck! Liam.”
Within minutes of Laws revealing the note’s existence yesterday – a crafty ploy on the part of the Tory spinners, The Capitalist must say – there was widespread uproar at Byrne’s admission that Labour had bled the country dry and left the cupboards bare. Meanwhile, the man at the centre of the storm protested that the note was meant as a joke, adding feebly that he hoped Laws’ sense of humour “wasn’t another casualty of the coalition deal”.
Mind you, couldn’t Byrne have looked to precedent before attempting such a gag? Reginald Maudling, the former Tory chancellor, set the bar for such actions back in the swinging Sixties, when he caused outrage by leaving his successor a note reading: “Sorry, old cock, to leave it in this state.”
In future, Liam, take your cue from your colleague Alistair Darling instead. Apparently, the former chancellor proved the model of good grace and good taste by leaving George Osborne with a simple bottle of wine – a useful as well as thoughtful present, since the new chancellor is bound to need a stiff drink while presenting his inaugural Budget next month.
CAT GOT THE CREAM
The announcement that Man Group is snapping up hedge fund GLG Partners for a hefty $1.6bn may have come like a bolt from the blue for the market yesterday, but philanthropic industry veterans won’t have been quite so surprised.
At the annual ARK charity extravaganza last week, you see, GLG co-founder Pierre Lagrange worked the crowd sporting an unusually broad, toothy smile, which he kept up for the entire evening.
“He was grinning like a Cheshire cat that got the cream,” whispers one guest. “We wondered what he was so delighted about – now we know.”
The story of Raven, the monkey who made history when she outperformed some of the world’s best fund managers with a portfolio of stocks picked by throwing darts, is one that appears now and again as a cheery cautionary tale to investors not to get overconfident.
(Raven managed to rack up a 213 per cent annual gain via the dart board method back at the turn of the last century, which would have ranked her as the 22nd best money manager in the US. Not too shabby at all.)
And now another entrepreneurial type is jumping on the monkey bandwagon with a new blog at monkeythrowdart.blogspot.com. A monkey named Sigmund is your stock picker, providing daily tips on a “trading strategy that really works” (hmm).
“If you end up losing money due to information posted here, don’t blame me,” reads his disclaimer. “You’re the one who took advice from a chimp.”
FOLLOW THE LEADER
A tasty little spat is due to come to a head today between two Aim-quoted companies, Renewable Power & Light (RPL) and Thalassa Holdings.
Thalassa, led by activist shareholder Duncan Soukup, is determined to wrest control of RPL, claiming that the board has underperformed since listing on Aim four years ago and that director remuneration, that enduring acorn of shareholder unrest, has been too high.
RPL itself, which made a loss of $1.6m last year, is adamant Soukup and his chums are not providing enough detail about their own investment strategy and that backing them would cause more shareholder pain.
Both sides have been slinging insults at each other for months now. The shareholders will today vote on the future of the company, which has never enjoyed a run of smooth sailing.
HOME SWEET HOME
Spare a thought for poor Gregory Baer, the general counsel at Bank of America, who was mobbed outside his Washington DC home on Sunday afternoon by angry protesters in support of Obama’s bank reforms.
Chicago protest group National People’s Action ferried over 700 workers by bus to Baer’s suburban backyard. The man himself originally attempted stealth tactics, lurking in the crowd hoping not to be noticed, until a neighbour gave the game away. Et tu, Brute?