AFTER months of being down on his luck, perhaps the tide is starting to turn for veteran fund management guru John Duffield and his newest business venture, Brompton Asset Management.<br /><br />Duffield, who also previously set up Jupiter and New Star, originally named the firm Hyde Park Asset Management, before hedge fund marketing firm Hyde Park Investment enlisted its legal heavies to persuade him to change the moniker to Brompton. The existence of a Canadian investment firm called Brompton Funds Management then came to light and it looked likely another about-turn would be on the cards, after the firm told The Capitalist it would also be talking to its legal counsel about pursuing options to stop Duffield’s use of the name.
Yet fast forward a few weeks, and it looks like Duffield can start printing some fancy new business cards after all.<br /><br />“There’s nothing doing at this time,” a spokesman for the Canadian firm drawls. “We are considering the implications of the name here in Canada, but for the moment, it’s just something we’d deal with on a day to day basis.”<br /><br />At the very least, it’ll give Duffield more time to concentrate on a law suit filed by former New Star fund manager Patrick Evershed, who’s currently suing the firm for unfair dismissal.
It takes a strong man to get back up and dust himself down after a beating, but coming back into the ring for round two? Yet that's exactly what shadow foreign secretary and former Tory leader William Hague has proved himself game enough to do in the latest edition of GQ, which hits the newsstands tomorrow.
Back in 2000, Hague sparked a media frenzy in his first interview with the magazine, when he told of his teenage years as a driver's mate, delivering beer to town and villages in South Yorkshire, and admitted he used to regularly sink 14 pints in a day.
But the publicity doesn't seem to have deterred him: not only has Hague given them another candid interview, but he’s also more than ready to laugh at his original discretionary lapse.<br /><br />“I get students writing to tell me about having a Hagueathon: they are trying to drink 14 pints, or have a three-legged one where two of them drink seven pints,” Hague tells Spectator editor Matthew d’Ancona. “That is my contribution to the English language. Margaret Thatcher contributed ‘Thatcherism’, all I’ve contributed is the name of a drinking contest.” A mighty fine achievement by City standards, I'm sure.
BEST FOOT FORWARD<
It seems it’s not just the general public who were amused on Monday by Barclays head honcho John Varley’s comparison of the bonus culture with astronomically-paid star footballers, after he told shareholders: “There is simply no higher priority than to ensure we field the very best people. That in a sense is exactly the same as a football manager if they are going to win.”<br /><br />
Even Pirc, the usually dour-faced corporate governance advisory body, put on its funny hat and had a good old dig."We simply don't have OPTA stats for investment bankers and it’s unlikely that we ever will,” it wrote in a note yesterday. "And to be honest we're sceptical that Barclays will ever make money selling shirts with Bob Diamond's name printed on the back."
Now there’s an idea for the next time a financial hurricane rears its ugly head.
MAN OF IRON
Is there no limit to the tests of endurance City folk are prepared to endure in the name of charity? Lindsay Williams, an interest rate swaps trader at Lloyds Banking Group, tells me he completed the menacingly-titled Double Ironman challenge at the weekend, involving a 4.8 mile swim, followed by a 224 mile bike ride and then a 52 mile double marathon run, all done back to back with no sleep.
Williams completed it on Sunday afternoon in a time of just 27 hours and 32 minutes, having wasted just 25 minutes in total for transition between the various legs – and what’s more, he managed to be back at his desk for 7.30am on Monday morning, putting years of hardcore City training to good use.
Now if that doesn’t deserve a couple of quid at www.justgiving.com/Lindsay-Williams/, I don't know what does.
A hefty copy of Andrew Davidson’s new book “1,000 CEOs” lands on my desk with a thud. Flicking through the 500-page tome, there are profiles on plenty of the usual suspects, along with a variety of choice quotations about their lofty principles and aspirations.<br /><br />“There are only two rules. Number one, never lose money. Number two, never forget number one,” is the sage advice from the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful investors.<br /><br />Larger-than-life Virgin chief Richard Branson has a rather different suggestion, claiming he never pays a visit to his bankers while dressed up, since “they might think I was in trouble” (perish the thought).<br /><br />But The Capitalist’s favourite words of wisdom come courtesy of Marks and Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose, whose simple motto is: “I want to please every woman, every time.”<br /><br />Now there’s something we should all be able to relate to.<br /><br /><strong>LOSS IN TRANSLATION</strong><br />Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the book, may The Capitalist suggest that in such a volatile climate, it might have been wise to update sections written months ago before the final edition went to print?<br /><br />Turning to the page on Eric Daniels, who is still hanging on by his fingernails as the chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, I read: “His careful stance helped Lloyds TSB avoid the worst consequences of the sub-prime fallout and to position itself to swallow rival HBOS during the 2008 financial hurricane” – nestled alongside such expressions as “weather the financial storm”, “expand when others were failing” and “position of relative strength”.<br /><br />It certainly makes for strange reading on the day Lloyds is predicted to report a £5.1bn first half loss after that disastrous takeover, especially given the slew of profits at many of its rivals...