REVEALED: THE CITY’S BEHIND-THE-SCENES BOARDROOM LUNCHES

THE DAYS of conspicuous client entertainment are over, as the City’s fattest cats rein in their largesse in the fallout of the financial crisis.

Or are they? Just days after the Bribery Act came into force, The Capitalist hears business is booming for a high-end catering service recreating City restaurants in the boardrooms of investment banks, private equity houses and hedge funds to allow financiers to entertain clients in a more “discreet” manner.

Away from the public’s prying eyes, City firms are quietly spending thousands on the lunches arranged by Sissi Fabulous Food (SFF), where chefs and butlers are imported to the businesses’ boardrooms to serve gourmet menus alongside world-class wines.

Demand for the lunches has soared so sharply since the recession that SFF now organises between two and four City client lunches each week, with the average spend of £2,500 for ten people rising to more than £6,000 if the hosts go to town on the wine.

“People don’t want to be seen to be spending too much money in the current climate,” said Gregory Schaad-Jackson, executive head chef & events manager at Sissi Fabulous Food. “But behind the scenes it is conspicuous consumption as usual.”

The Capitalist has obtained the menu for one City firm’s boardroom “at home” last June (pictured far right) and – as you can see – the financial institution’s clients would hardly have been wishing they had been taken to The Ivy instead.

However, Schaad-Jackson wouldn’t name any of his City clients, nor would he say which firm asked him to reproduce Heston Blumenthal’s snail porridge and bacon-and-egg icecream, or even which company spent £5,000 on wine alone...

PICTURE THIS
THE WALLS of the Royal Academy were last night relieved of some of the 1,117 paintings in the Summer Exhibition, after the gallery’s corporate sponsor Jefferies invited its clients to buy the art on display in a private view with a difference.

The RA agreed to keep its sales desks open throughout the drinks reception so clients from firms including Anglo American, AXA, BlackRock, Fidelity and M&G Investments could shop for the art, which ranged from under £100 to “tens of thousands”.

Something for everyone, then – although the art-loving hosts from Jefferies were the keenest shoppers, The Capitalist hears, led by international president David Weaver, who has a collection of contemporary art at his London home, and Domenico Crapanzano, head of European rates, who bought “a few pieces”, no doubt to brighten up Jefferies’ reception.

NO REST FOR UBS
NOT TO be outdone on the art front, UBS yesterday unveiled a giant billboard by British artist Stephen Wiltshire that will be displayed in the arrivals hall at New York’s JFK airport to promote the bank’s “we will not rest” slogan.

Wiltshire sketched the Manhattan scene from memory over three days after taking a helicopter ride around the island, and UBS was quick to draw parallels between the artist’s “attention to detail” and the care the bank takes on client business.

“It’s the same spirit of restlessness with which we approach our clients’ goals,” says the text on the side of the 76-metre hoarding, in a move that will no doubt amuse the City’s jetlagged executives as they land in New York after a long business flight.

SIGHT SAVERS
AHEAD of Thursday’s Standard Chartered Great City Race, Standard Chartered’s group finance director Richard Meddings (left) told The Capitalist how he recently travelled to Tanzania to see how the funds raised by last year’s race have helped the community in Dar es Salaam.

Meddings, who is chairman of the race’s designated charity Seeing Is Believing, said: “Since we launched the scheme in 2003, Seeing Is Believing has raised more than $32m and over 2.78m people in developing markets have benefited from sight restorations.”

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