THE City’s rugby aficionados and former Oxbridge contingent are already gearing up for this year’s Varsity match, which is being sponsored for the second year running by Japanese bank Nomura.<br /><br />Nomura stepped in at the last minute to save the day after it rescued the European operations of failed bank Lehman Brothers, the event’s former chief sponsor.<br /><br />The rugby match, which will this year be held on 10 December at Twickenham, is really a corker of a corporate sponsorship opportunity – Nomura reckons it has spent around £150,000 so far this year on championing the occasion, which will in turn provide it with unparalleled exposure to one of its most lucrative future markets.<br /><br />That’s quite apart from the considerable morale-boosting power of hosting such an event internally. The bank’s own City rugby team will no doubt be glued to the action, as will one of Nomura’s most famous employees, head of EMEA emerging markets equity sales Simon Halliday, who used to be an England rugby international. <br /><br />And after The Capitalist got up in arms last year about the fact that the match wasn’t screened in the office for employees left behind, Nomura has even made the concession of agreeing to allow any interested parties to watch it back in the City this year. Roll on December.<br /><br /><strong>SEEING RED</strong><br />In flies an email from a bemused reader, who was rather disgruntled upon receiving a red-topped letter yesterday from the Royal Bank of Scotland.<br /><br />RBS – which, let’s not forget, was rescued from financial oblivion last year by taxpayers including our worthy scribe – was intent upon penalising the poor lady for missing her credit card repayment, and this despite the fact that the postal strike has rendered any form of snail mail communication virtually impossible.<br /><br />Even better, she writes, the bank lauded itself in the penalty letter as a “responsible lender”...<br /><br /><strong>FAT CATS</strong><br />Fund management veteran John Duffield may be renowned as one of the most hard-nosed men in business, but it seems that even the toughest cookies have a soft side.<br /><br />Apparently, the Jupiter Asset Management and New Star founder, who has recently set up a new outfit called Brompton Asset Management, has a firm policy when settling lawsuits out of court. <br /><br />Instead of channelling any financial settlement back into his firm or into his own pocket, Duffield insists upon indulging his love of cats by donating said monies to his favourite moggy charity.<br /><br />Somewhere out there, The Capitalist reckons there must be a happy animal protection charity bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “fat cat”…<br /><br /><strong>TURN OF PHRASE</strong><br />Andrew Ross Sorkin’s new book on the banking crisis – Too Big To Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street – may have only been published in the UK yesterday, but it’s already ruffling feathers among the powers that be.<br /><br />The book touches upon a phone conversation before Lehman Brothers collapsed, in which chancellor Alistair Darling spoke to US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson about the possibility of Barclays buying the bank.<br /><br />Yet the report of a phrase Paulson apparently remembers hearing from Darling – that he didn’t want to import America’s “cancer” – has touched a nerve. The Treasury got in touch yesterday to ensure The Capitalist was aware the claim was tosh, saying: “Alistair categorically did not say that. Anyone who knows him would know he doesn’t use language like that…”<br /><br />Heavens. If using the C-word counts as turning the air blue at the oh-so-proper Treasury, goodness knows what they’d make of a trading floor. Or a newsroom, for that matter... <br /><br /><strong>LIVING DEAD</strong><br />Parliament’s finest will probably get the shock of their lives this evening when they leave work to find a crowd of zombies lurching down Whitehall.<br /><br />The “Vote for a Change” campaign has decided to mark Hallowe’en by leading a zombie march on Parliament to publicise their call for a referendum on the voting system.<br /><br />“Special prizes for the best-dressed undead politico,” shrieks the website. “So no skimping on the fake blood!” This should be a sight for sore eyes…<br /><br /><strong>WHITE STUFF</strong><br />Geraint Anderson, self-styled “Cityboy” and author of Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile, has returned to writing his column, this time on City gossip site Here Is The City. <br /><br />Fans will be happy to see Anderson’s time off hasn’t changed his hedonistic subject matter – his latest musings dwell upon the decreasing quality of the cocaine on offer in the City as sterling’s value drops against the euro. Apparently, the low value of the pound means dealers aren’t willing to take the extra risk of importing Charlie to Blighty, so bankers are making do with an unidentified cocktail, heavily laced with crushed aspirin, instead.<br /><br />Now there’s a currency impact the economists hadn’t foreseen.