THEY came, they saw, they conquered – and then the Tchenguiz brothers were arrested by the Serious Fraud Office yesterday morning in connection with the collapse of the Kaupthing Icelandic bank.
The dramatic raid at the property developers’ Mayfair HQ has been the talk of the MIPIM property fair at Cannes, where the brothers were due to host a glitzy party tonight aboard their yacht Veni Vidi Vici, currently moored in the harbour.
The yacht has been closed off to visitors and the crew are remaining tight-lipped about the fate of their employers, who are currently detained in London.
Cue gallows humour from their contemporaries at MIPIM, where The Capitalist hears the joke doing the rounds is whether the brothers’ party will be relocated to Bow Magistrates Court.
The colourful duo will be much missed as the revelries at the conference continue – as one property chief said: “MIPIM would be very dull if it was full of librarians. Long may [the brothers] continue.”
But their absence won’t be mourned for that long, it seems, as there are plenty of other high-octane yacht parties to fill the gap in the social whirl.
Last night, for example, Bruce Ritchie, chief executive of Residential Land, threw a party aboard his yacht Melody Nelson II, followed by an intriguing “Ooh La La” soirée hosted by a group of Russian oligarchs in a top-secret location, rumoured to be a “very wild affair”.
And tonight – if anyone is still standing – a property individual with £100m of residential property assets is whisking a few close friends off to Monte Carlo by helicopter for a private function.
However, don’t be fooled that the Cannes property circus is just a jolly: “a lot of serious business” is also being done in the South of France, according to a second, entirely sober, delegate.
Speaking from his seat in the sunshine at an outdoor restaurant overlooking La Croisette, he told The Capitalist: “If you took even just 1 per cent of all the deals that are being done in this restaurant as we speak, you would be very wealthy indeed.”
INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day was marked with quite some style at Nomura, the Japanese bank that hit the headlines recently for appointing its first female chief financial officer, Junko Nakagawa.
At the end of the working day, 100 of the firm’s staff headed to the eleventh floor of the office for an evening with fashion designer and businesswoman Amanda Wakeley, with introductions made by Paul Norris, global head of equity research and co-head of the Women in Nomura Network.
Wakeley spoke candidly to Nomura employees about her struggle to build her enterprise, including her darkest hour in 2009 when she had to buy back her business and save 50 jobs in the UK.
“Businesswomen must be in complete control of their business decisions,” she told the crowd of bankers, “and not rely on someone else to do it for them”.
As a finale, six of Nomura’s brave female staff – Joo Lee, Omotoni Osibodu, Mariela Missailidis, Edleen John, Charisma Patel and Ksenia Shebavalenko – took to the office catwalk to model Wakeley’s latest collection, empowered by the designer’s passion for “creating looks that help women in business”.
OUT WITH THE OLD
DON’T be caught out when HM Revenue & Customs abolishes the maximum list price for company cars on 6 April in an attempt to net more income tax.
Under the new rules, total tax paid by City executives and their employers will rocket by 182 per cent for a company car with a list price of £222,000 such as a Ferrari 612 – a total tax bill of £50,000.
But the real danger is for drivers of secondhand supercars – you can pick up a 2005 model Ferrari 612 for about £65,000, but as a company car the tax bill will be based on its list price of £177,000. So if in doubt, buy new – as David Heaton, consulting partner at accountant Baker Tilly, advised: “Paying £40,000 of tax and National Insurance a year to drive a car worth £65,000 is not very attractive.”
AN update on the cycle ride planned by Matthew Whitaker, programme manager at Barclays, to raise money for the victims of the New Zealand earthquake.
The group will now ride from the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner to Christ Church, Oxford – not Christchurch, Bournemouth, as originally planned – reducing the trip by 50 miles to make the 22 May event “more inclusive”.
Oxford is also fitting because Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand was founded by members of Christ Church, Oxford in the mid-nineteenth century. “It seems particularly poignant that as Christchurch in New Zealand starts to rebuild, the bike ride ends where that city began more than 150 years ago,” Whitaker said.
To donate to the cause, see http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/FromLondontoChristchurch.
FANCY a socially responsible investment (SRI) at no extra cost? As ever, it sounds implausible, but Deutsche Bank has this week launched an exchange-traded fund to give investors that warm glow of giving to charity without the pain of plunging their cash into the bottomless pit of underperforming SRI indices.
Newly listed in London, the exchange-traded fund (ETF) is part of Deutsche’s db x-trackers line, the exception being that its 0.2 per cent fee will add to The Global Fund, which draws on a war chest of $12.7bn to fight tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. As the old adage goes, charity begins with ETFs...