SEASONED investors will be familiar with the mountain of paperwork that traditionally accompanies any City deal, but it does rather take the biscuit when recipients are actually forced to order waste-disposal skips in order to get the documents off their hands.
Yet this, ladies and gents, is the position which stockbroker Charles Stanley finds itself, as the decidedly ungrateful recipient of no less than 5,000 – yes, 5,000 – copies of insurer Prudential’s mammoth rights issue document.
I hear Charles Stanley has been forced to order a couple of building-site skips to help them dispose of the mass of documents, each one of which is an epic 936 pages long and weighs 2.7 kilograms.
Running the numbers briefly, that means that the Pru has delivered 13.5 metric tons of paper to Charles Stanley’s office – and I’m told that the reason why the load has to be staggered over four days is that the maximum Royal Mail will post to one address in a day is 20 of its pallets, which doesn’t even begin to cover this colossal delivery.
By way of explanation, the Pru tells me that the only reason Charles Stanley has received so many is that lots of its clients hold nominee accounts in the firm’s own name – and that all investors have the choice as to whether to receive documents in hard copy format or on the web, with the latter the default option.
But weighing just one of these monsters in the post room shows up a delivery cost of £7.39, meaning that Charles Stanley’s share alone is going to cost Tidjane Thiam almost £37,000. At least it’s peanuts compared to the £850m the firm is going to be spending on advisory fees.
Serious final preparations are being made for the sporting event of the season at Canary Wharf next Tuesday evening – the Grand Prix professional/amateur cycling race. No less than ten financial services firms have registered for the race, with competitive spirits running high (some have even been holding trials at the Reebok Gym to pick out the fastest riders).
I hear it was half-jokingly suggested that the Financial Services Authority should broaden its enforcement remit to include making sure all the racing is above board, though the idea was quickly discounted when it emerged the regulator would be entering a team.
Other teams participating – all anchored by a professional cyclist – include Barclays Capital, Citi, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, the Canary Wharf Group, KPMG, State Street, HSBC and Thomson Reuters.
The first past the post after all six team members have completed the 1km course will take the coveted trophy.
All active on the campaign front, as Hargreave Hale fund manager Patrick Evershed launched his own personal capital gains tax (CGT) crusade yesterday.
Evershed – who is also the long-standing president of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association – has written to his MP Mark Field and his old chum Michael Fallon, also a Tory minister, to demand an extra clause be considered for the CGT rules.
Evershed wants extra allowances to be brought in for the over-65s when higher CGT rates are brought in, to stop those living on short means in their retirement being clobbered by the increase.
“Mind you,” he admits, “I’m almost speaking personally as I approach my eighth decade…”
While we’re on the subject of campaigns, a short update on City spinner Hugo de Salis’ “Push the Button” campaign, first revealed in this column a few days ago.
The operation is designed to make striking BA cabin crew really work for their money when they’re up in the air, by calling on City workers to push the steward button a minimum of ten times per flight.
It’s now got an official Facebook page with 85 supporters and counting as of last night.
“No longer will the normal hard working BA passenger be the silent partner in this increasingly acrimonious dispute!” trumpets the site. Quite.
SMART SET OF WHEELS
Tory minister Andrew Mitchell hasn’t wasted any time making waves as the new head of the Department for International Development (DFID). Just days into the role, he announced a blanket freeze on funding for five of the department’s major development “awareness projects”, with the aim of saving the department £500,000. A Brazilian dance troupe, nursery school teacher training programmes, summer music festival stalls, a global school gardens network and outdoor education tutor training have all been scrapped. Yet rumour in Westminster would have it that Mitchell isn’t quite so happy to accept cost saving measures in other areas of the department, particularly when it comes to his set of wheels. Word is that he’s not at all happy with being driven around in the drab ministerial motor he’s been allocated…
Finally, a quote of the week, courtesy of Hans Redeker, the head of the currency team over at BNP Paribas following German chancellor Angela Merkel’s ban on naked shorting: “As a German citizen, I wish to apologise for the stupidity of my government.”
Honesty always has been the best policy, eh?