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ROLET BRINGS IN THE BANKING BIG HITTERS TO EYE UP M&A TARGETS

MUCHOS excitement on the markets yesterday after Xavier Rolet continued in his quest to stamp his mark on the London Stock Exchange by axing its long-standing M&amp;A advisers.<br /><br />Rolet has made no secret of his ambitious plans for the exchange, which he hopes to turn into a &pound;10bn business via a number of strategic acquisitions and partnerships, and tongues are already wagging about what the change of banking adviser could mean for potential takeover targets.<br /><br />Out of the fray is one of the Square Mile&rsquo;s most prolific rainmakers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch&rsquo;s Matthew Greenburgh &ndash; who was a trusted adviser to Dame Clara Furse, helping the LSE&rsquo;s former chief fend off a number of hostile takeover approaches from the likes of New York bourse Nasdaq and German exchange Deutsche Boerse.<br /><br />Meanwhile, stepping into his shoes are Max Mesny at Morgan Stanley and Mark Warham, co-head of Barclays Capital&rsquo;s European M&amp;A business, who The Capitalist imagines is experiencing a hefty sense of d&eacute;j&agrave; vu right now.<br /><br />Warham joined Barcap in July after nine years at Morgan Stanley, including a period of time on secondment as director general of the Takeover Panel in 2006 and 2007 &ndash; precisely the period during which Clara Furse was fighting off the LSE&rsquo;s aforementioned unwelcome suitors.<br /><br />The gamekeeper, it seems, has become the predator.<br /><br /><strong>SUPPORT GROUP</strong><br />In flies an email from the Investment Management Association, containing a rundown of its recent Gordon Midgley memorial debate on the subject of whether retail banking should be separated from wholesale banking.<br /><br />Yes, that very debate at which Bill Winters &ndash; who was ousted two days ago as co-chief executive of investment banking at JP Morgan &ndash; pinned the blame for the financial crisis partly on &ldquo;greedy bankers, investors and borrowers&rdquo;.<br /><br />Funny, then, that Winters not only won the debate, he managed to do so by a resounding 36 per cent margin in front of a &ldquo;specially invited audience of 100 senior figures from the financial services industry&rdquo;. (The first time the vote was taken, his side of the debate garnered just 43 per cent of the audience&rsquo;s support, soaring to 68 per cent of the vote after Winters put his &ndash; presumably highly convincing &ndash; argument.)<br /><br />At least he should prove persuasive when it comes to securing a new job...<br /><br /><strong>SWEET NOTHINGS</strong><br />Things really are getting heated between chocolatier Cadbury and its hostile suitor Kraft. And no, I&rsquo;m not talking about the Takeover Panel bringing down its iron fist on Kraft yesterday by imposing that &ldquo;put up or shut up&rdquo; deadline that&rsquo;s been on the cards since soon after the consumer giant&rsquo;s &pound;10.2bn cash-and-shares approach was firmly rejected by the Cadbury board earlier this month.<br /><br />What we&rsquo;re dealing with here, folks, is a full-blown chocolate war, after Cadbury got its own back on Kraft for sending out packets of edible goodies to butter up journalists at the end of last week. <br /><br />&ldquo;Hello there,&rdquo; was the opening gambit from a terribly friendly Cadbury corporate affairs chap on the phone yesterday morning. &ldquo;We wanted to send some chocolate over to the City A.M. office and were just wondering which Cadbury brands you particularly enjoy?&rdquo;<br /><br />Yippee &ndash; more goodies, and tailored to our personal tastes, no less. What will the Takeover Panel make of all these gifted sweet nothings, I can&rsquo;t help but wonder?<br /><br /><strong>HAVE A HEART</strong><br />Word reaches The Capitalist of a new initiative set up by the usually staid community of City economists, set up to provide economists&rsquo; services to the charitable sector and launched at an event hosted by cabinet secretary Sir Gus O&rsquo;Donnell on Tuesday night.<br /><br />The new charity, Pro Bono Economics, has been set up by Andy Haldane, the Bank of England&rsquo;s executive director for financial stability, and Martin Brookes, chief executive of New Philanthropy Capital. It has already begun a small number of pilot projects with children&rsquo;s charities Chance UK, the Brandon Centre and Barnardo&rsquo;s, where current activities include assessing the costs of child sexual exploitation.<br /><br />Powerful patrons include former and current FSA heads Sir Howard Davies and Lord Turner, Sir Alan Budd, the former chief economic adviser to the Treasury, and BBC business editor Robert Peston.<br /><br /><strong>HORSING AROUND</strong><br />In the latest instalment of this column&rsquo;s ongoing series on the most reliable barometers of economic recovery, I hear the pennies are flooding in at the Goffs racehorse auction in Ireland, which finishes today.<br /><br />The most expensive horse sold thus far went to Dr Jim Hay, a former senior BP executive and current owner of construction industry chemical supplier Fosroc, who spent &euro;475,000 (&pound;434,700) on one beast and &euro;230,000 on a second, whose sire won the Epsom Derby in 2005.