THERE WAS only one sour note at the Goldman Sachs and Financial Times Business Book of the Year awards – the Roquefort-flavoured ice-cream, which went down about as well as sovereign debt exposure at MF Global. “I’m not sure about this,” said Jonathan Taylor from HM Treasury as he laid down his spoon with a grimace.
Thankfully, the rest of the evening was more palatable. Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, announced Poor Economics – “a rich book on the ethics of poverty” – as this year’s winner, while BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten of Barnes gave the keynote address. “One of my books turned into a bestseller when a well-known media group dropped it from their catalogue… and I still remember Mr Murdoch in my prayers,” opened the UK’s “prime minister who never was”, as one admirer put it.
Also dining at The Wallace Collection were City veteran Sir David Arculus, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and Simon Davies, the Linklaters leader handling the liquidation of MF Global’s Asian business and a friend of resting Lloyds boss António Horta-Osório.
And so the conversation turned to stress, where it seems Horta-Osório is not alone in feeling the strain. “Don’t be alarmed if you hear a whirring sound,” one 50-something Linklaters partner notified Davies in a recent meeting. “It’s just my heart monitor.”
GOING WITH A BANG
THE RECENT reunion for those who worked on the floor of the London Stock Exchange pre-1985 almost went with a Big Bang in more ways than one, The Capitalist hears.
As the City veterans relived their lost decades upstairs at Drapers’ Hall, downstairs the Occupy London protesters were threatening to cause a disturbance. “We have been told there are bankers inside drinking champagne,” the St Paul’s campers berated one Stock Exchange stalwart.
By the time the police arrived at 9.30pm, the protesters were starting to disperse, having been assured there were no Moët-guzzling masters of the universe inside, “only old people drinking soft drinks”. “But can you imagine the damage they could have caused?” said one horrified mole.
ON THE FENCE
MEANWHILE, William Pitt and Chris Branch of Lloyd’s of London underwriter Beazley crossed swords in a duel at Devonshire Square.
Not to settle a professional liability claim, you understand, but as part of a fencing demonstration by eight Olympic and Paralympic professionals organised in the run-up to London 2012 by the firm that started its £1m sponsorship of British fencing in January.
On hand to adjudicate as City passers-by “had a go” in a series of short public fights were the BBC’s Graham Bell and 1998 Commonwealth silver medallist Karim Bashir.