THERE’S MORE than one top-level summit for bankers in Switzerland this week. At the ski resort of Klosters, The Capitalist hears several members of the business elite have been taxing their champagne-addled brains by betting on racing piglets.
At least they would have done if fog hadn’t scuppered the trotters’ Derby. Instead, guests at the winter festival, which ran until Sunday, amused themselves by playing polo and partying in clubs made of shipping containers and snow.
Welcome to the annual winter festival organised by – you couldn’t make it up – a lavatory salesman called Daniel Waechter, last spotted making his fortune by selling the Golden Throne range named after European monarchs.
Sweden’s billionaire Rausing family flew in for the four-day festival, as did the singer Annie Lennox, heads of banks and captains of industry from gold, construction, engineering, property, shipping and steel companies – who all “prefer not to be named”. “Part of the reason [the guests] like being there is because they can be themselves,” said a source.
Presumably, then, no irony was intended when one VIP guest started an auction bidding war at the closing night party by asking Duran Duran to rattle out an acoustic version of their hit Ordinary World for ever-larger sums of cash.
BACK TO SCHOOL
IT’S BACK to school for Bill Gates this morning. At 10am, the software billionaire, on a stopover from Seattle, will tell pupils at a London secondary state school about his priorities for global development, as released in today’s Annual Letter 2012.
Gates is making the trip as part of the Speakers for Schools initiative, where his group of students will be joined by pupils from West Africa, Asia, the US and the Middle East via a live weblink.
Precisely which school will benefit is strictly off-limits, says a security-conscious aide. “If we told you, it would have to be cancelled.” The location of his 2.30pm appointment is for public knowledge, however – Gates will put on his Global Poverty hat to speak at the London School of Economics.
BOND, GREEK BOND
YOURS FOR only £9.95, plus £2.95 handling: an “original and genuine” £100 Greek bond with one careful owner – the Bank of England.
“We are perhaps the only coin firm in the UK that does not sell anything as an investment,” advises collector Coincraft, which bought the 1898 bond (pictured below right) at a bond auction 20 years ago, when the BofE was cleaning out some of its old papers.
Before you ask, the bond was never paid off, leaving one of Mervyn King’s many predecessors to raid the Treasury to underwrite the debt. Greece defaults, the Bank of England steps in – the rest, as they say, is history.
GLASTONBURY’S off, The Big Chill’s on ice. Which leaves Spanish festival Benicassim as the frontrunner to rake in the most cash this summer, following the announcement that Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Florence + the Machine and the Stone Roses are confirmed to appear at the event.
On the back of the news, Merchant Securities recommends the event’s owner Music Festivals, the operator owned by the former Mean Fiddler impresario Vince Power, as a “buy” at 57.5p.
“The pedigree of top artists, coupled with the established Benicassim brand, will underpin sales ahead of the event,” notes the broker. Although it would say that, as it was the nominated adviser when the £8.5m company floated on Aim last June.
HAVE SOME City firms left it too late to organise their corporate entertainments around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee?
The restaurant High Timber, which has a waterfront terrace, has been booked up since last November on the afternoon of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant down the Thames on 3 June.
That fact didn’t bother one well-known international insurance company, however, which offered the venue free insurance for a year if it would cancel its existing bookings to accommodate its party. High Timber, for the record, said no.