Sign of the changing times at LME’s annual traders’ dinner

TO the London Metal Exchange, where last week the historic British institution welcomed its new owner – Charles Li of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) – to its annual dinner.

At a glamorous affair at the Grosvenor Hotel, packed to the rafters with around 2,000 traders, Li rather stole the limelight from guest speaker Lord (Peter) Mandelson when he took to the floor to deliver an impromptu speech.

And if there were any doubt in the minds of employees of the 135-year-old institution that the shift of power from West to East was complete, Li made sure he hammered home the point by shifting from English to Mandarin halfway through his address.

For all the other changes he may be planning at the Leadenhall Street institution, it’s heartening to see that Li is keeping alive the LME’s famous open outcry method of business. In another nod to tradition, Li wore black tie to the event – his first time ever in a penguin suit, he admitted.

The gala dinner was part of LME week ­– an annual chance for the industry’s movers and shakers to get together for seminars, presentations and, of course, parties.

The Capitalist hears that one of the highlights this year was a 60th anniversary bash hosted by Sucden Financial – complete with a replica circular trading floor that doubled as a dancefloor, no doubt fulfilling the lifelong ambition of several light-footed traders.

Cally Squires is away

■ Planned engineering work: three words that have brought London’s already dwindling Olympic spirit (not to mention most of the Victoria line) to a juddering halt in recent weeks. Some are taking the end of the Games, and the faultless public infrastructure that came with it, better than others. The road builders of Cannon Street (or possibly just a disgruntled wag with a biro) are dealing with the increased workload in a somewhat odd fashion.