CITY LEADERS met royalty at The Savoy on Tuesday night, at a dinner to mark a new partnership between City A.M. and an African microfinance charity that aims to improve the lives of thousands.

Guest of honour was HRH The Princess Royal, a patron of the Opportunity International (OI) charity, who told guests including Vallares founder Nat Rothschild, Man Group’s chief executive Peter Clarke and Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s European president Jonathan Moulds about her experiences of working for the cause in Ghana.

The charity focuses on Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana and Mozambique, where up to eight per cent of the population are denied financial services, explained the charity’s chairman John Ford, the former chief investment officer of T. Rowe Price International.

The appeal will publicly launch in the next few weeks; in the meantime, Lloyds Banking Group has already raised £1m as a long-term supporter of the fund, said the bank’s vice chairman of client coverage Truett Tate. Graham Simpson, OI’s director of philanthropy, added: “Even a small loan of £100 can give someone the hand-up they need to transform their business, and we want to support thousands of small entrepreneurs.”

THEY SAY you should never judge a book by its cover – but are staff at The Anthologist restaurant amusing themselves by matching the hardback books they conceal diners’ bills inside to the characters of their clientele?

Surely not – but one recent City visitor still took offence when he was handed Selected to Live, a book on how God changes lives by Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner (right). “I thought it was a compliment,” the waitress told The Capitalist. “At least it didn’t say “you are about to die”.”

THE BBC’s staff have put up an impressive show of resistance against moving up north to MediaCityUK in Salford – and now they have another battle on their hands.
In an attempt to deliver “maximum value for licence fee payers” at BBC North, the corporation has axed individual landlines for 70 per cent of its staff, giving them a laptop and mobile phone they can use to “hot-desk” between departments.

Only one problem – the mobile reception is “virtually non-existent”, complains The Capitalist’s man in Manchester, meaning staff have to programme their mobile to divert to the communal “bank” of landlines on the desk they happen to be sitting near at the time.

Of course, the BBC doesn’t have much luck with technology. Shortly after entering into a £2bn IT contract with Siemens in 2005, staff found they couldn’t make international calls – something of a problem for the World Service.

THERE is a reason Lord Mayor Michael Bear’s speechwriter is never ill – he cycles to work every day.

“Cyclists take on average ten fewer sick days a year,” said Bear. “As I need to give around 900 speeches by the end of my year in office, I am very relieved.”

The Lord Mayor gave this particular speech at the launch of the City Cycle Style exhibition at the Royal Exchange, joined by London mayor Boris Johnson, whose Boris Bikes scheme was last week adopted by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg under the rumoured name “Mike’s Bikes”.