TURTLES DITCH DAY JOB FOR HEDGE FUND BREAK

SOME of the City’s brightest talents will hand in their notices this week to pursue potentially even more lucrative careers as hedge fund traders.

Oxbridge graduate Will Jukes, 27, who trained at Ernst & Young before working at RBS and most recently as a freelance financial analyst, will be much missed by his well-known Westminster employer, while Avron Cunningham, 30, leaves large shoes to fill at transport lending house DVB Bank, where he specialises in aviation finance.

The pair are part of the final 15 “Turtle Traders” on the hedge fund apprenticeship scheme run by Mike Baghdady and Les Johnston of Training Traders – as first reported in this column on 14 April – who will start their year-long training on 4 July.

The bankers are joined on the list by Alex Webb, 28, a London School of Economics-educated professional poker player, and Ross Outram, 33, who has been working as a taxi driver after losing his job as a pit trader for Refco Futures.

The new start offered by the Turtle Traders programme is worth “an arm and a leg” in free training, says Johnston, as well as a 20 per cent stake in any profits they make and the ultimate prize of a job as a full-time hedge fund trader.

So you can see why the Turtles were so keen to ditch their day jobs. One candidate, speaking in a hushed voice from the canteen of the City firm he will quit next Monday, said: “You can mess around learning your trade in the City all you like. But a win-win opportunity like this comes around only once – you would be foolish not to accept.”

COBEN’S ICE-BREAKER

CELEBRATIONS in the Coben household, after Live Wire, the latest novel from Merrill Lynch banker Craig Coben’s brother Harlan, shot straight to the top of the bestseller lists following its UK publication last Thursday.

“It is a breathtaking read,” said Craig Coben, head of equity capital markets EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who gave the airport thriller “two thumbs up”.

Live Wire is even giving BoA a business advantage, as clients use the novel as an ice-breaker in “a significant percentage” of Coben’s meetings.

“Banking is a competitive business,” Coben explained. “And some clients have trouble distinguishing one bank from another, so they welcome being able to talk about my brother’s latest book. It gives us a point of difference.”

CANNES-DO

AT FIRST glance it looked like a cocktail party for members of the Forbes Billionaires List and the Sunday Times Rich List.

But no – US business magnate Ron Burkle, socialite songwriter Denise Rich, Hong Kong textile magnate Silas Chou and film producer Harvey Weinstein were in town for a Fashion for Relief catwalk show in aid of Japan, organised by supermodel Naomi Campbell.

As you can imagine, the charity auction at the Forville Market in Cannes raised the bar by several notches, with a necklace by the event’s sponsor Chopard going for €100,000 and a second guest bidding €280,000 for a private commissioned portrait by Julian Schnabel.

Funny, then, that they could only spare €12,000 for a print of Campbell in the nude.

RAINBOW WARRIOR

ANOTHER two years, another charity partner for Japanese bank Nomura, which this morning announced that the next beneficiary of its fundraising efforts will be children’s charity Rainbow Trust.

So that explains the photo (below) of Brett Olsen, managing director of ABS sales on Nomura’s fixed income trading floor with a large pink hippo called George. Now it’s over to the investment bank’s employees to beat the £1m raised for previous partner, the Teenage Cancer Trust.

BREAKDOWN BLUES

THEIR colleagues at City Index doubted they would return alive.

But Allen Knight, Andy Hawkeswood and Mike Herron have successfully completed their 5,000km trip in a three-wheeled auto rickshaw from Cochin in Southern India to Shillong in the Northern province of Meghalaya.

The journey, which raised £5,000 for Frank Water, took just under two weeks – but no thanks to the rickshaw breaking down on every other corner, most memorably when the mechanic informed the group the vehicle needed a new engine block and the nearest hotel was 30km away.

The Capitalist hears the overnight stay in a small concrete room accompanied by a plastic chair, two geckos and several mosquitoes was “an extremely long night”.