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A IS FOR... A TOUCH OF ACRIMONY AT ALCHEMY

PROOF, if it were needed, that the old adage about time being the best healer does not always ring true.

Private equity veteran Jon Moulton is in the preliminary throes of building his new business, Better Capital, after quitting his former firm Alchemy Partners last September amid a boardroom bust-up over strategy. (His resignation letter to investors, interested parties may remember, included a personal attack on his successor Dominic Slade, an expression of profound regret that “Alchemy is not what it was” and a promise that if he came back he would “do it better” – hence the name of the new vehicle.)

But a chance perusal of Moulton’s new website, fresh from a bit of a revamp in the past few weeks, reveals a mischievous addition to Better Capital’s home page in the form of a tongue-in-cheek “A-Z of private equity”.
Choice titbits include the letter E, for “Envy ratio – the ratio between how much money a management team makes and how many workers they make unemployed”, and M, for “Management. To be blamed for poor investments. Also: Moulton. To be praised for excellent investments.”

But The Capitalist’s favourite comes right at the top of the list, where A stands for “Asset strippers and/or Alchemy, a former private equity investor…”
Ouch.

CHOCS AWAY
After Kraft yesterday put the final stamp on its deal to acquire everyone’s favourite British chocolatier, it appears the Cadbury press office may well be the first to feel the sharp blade of the axe.

In trundled a delivery boy with a basket of Cadbury goodies yesterday morning, as a farewell gift from said spinners – who explained in an accompanying letter that the “lion’s share” of the combined company’s media relations activities would now be taken on by Kraft.

“We didn’t retain our independence,” the flacks continued, in a last valiant attempt at spin, “but we did deliver a significant dollop of extra value to our shareholders, and that in the end was what we set out to do.”

Funny, that, coming from the firm whose chairman Roger Carr was adamant shareholders should not let Kraft “steal” the company…

BANKING BEGINNERS
As part of the authorities’ commitment to convince bank directors to take a more active role in policing their institutions, the US Federal Reserve has introduced a new online training resource for new boardmembers – and boy, does it make interesting reading.

The Fed’s introduction includes the tale of a legendary football coach who apparently recognised the importance of getting back to basics, and therefore began every pre-season training session by standing before his players with a ball and announcing: “Gentlemen, this is a football”.

Continues the Fed, solemnly: “With that in mind, we begin with the basic discussion, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is a bank’…”

ASSET INFLATION
A bizarre upturn for the books this week for cosmetic surgery, of all things.

Harley Medical Group tells me today is traditionally the busiest day of the year for enquiries, after research showed activity reached an annual high on the first Wednesday in February for every one of the past five years.

The group proffers as explanation both the fact the date follows the first payday after Christmas and the fact people are starting to think about preparing for summer.

Though the ever-cynical Capitalist is inclined to believe it might be down to the eternal failure of those draconian New Year’s resolutions to make any difference whatsoever to either willpower or waistlines.

BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT
A reader emails in to report the irony of discovering an old book under his desk, entitled: “The Lehman Brothers Guide to Exotic Credit Derivatives – 2003”.

Among the gems he reads in the foreword of this wise tome include spiel about the primary purpose of credit derivatives being “to enable the efficient transfer and repackaging of credit risk” and about Lehman having seen “a stepped increase in the liquidity of these exotic products”.

“You honestly couldn’t make it up – it’ll make a great piece of memorabilia for my grandkids,” quips our scribe.

LUCKY PANTS
Old superstitions die hard, as evidenced by a recent sartorial quirk on the part of City analysts Jeremy Batstone-Carr at Charles Stanley.

Batstone-Carr has been preparing since the summer for the Six Nations rugby tournament, which kicks off on
Saturday with a tussle between the rugged sporting stars of England and Wales.
I hear he picked up an unofficial pair of lucky spotty underpants all those months ago and has been “working them in” all year on the playing fields of south west London.

And what’s more, if England wins, the good fellow has pledged to go commando for the rest of the year.
Ooh-er.