BANK CHIEF ‘OGRE’ GETS AN IMAGE OVERHAUL
FAIRFAX chief executive Stefan Allesch-Taylor is on the blower following a story in this column yesterday about the boutique bank scouting around for a new investor – a move which could potentially usurp the big man’s family trust as the firm’s largest shareholder.
Not that Allesch-Taylor’s particular beef is with the story itself, mind. He’s more put out about the picture that ran alongside it, which he claims made him look like “Shrek”.
“I had people calling me up all day in sympathy, saying to me, ‘even you’re not that ugly, mate’,” he roars.
In the interest of keeping the peace – Allesch-Taylor does stand a statuesque 6’10” tall, for heaven’s sake, so vertically challenged blondes probably shouldn’t insist on rubbing him up the wrong way – The Capitalist has agreed to republish a newer, improved portrait in which he looks more like a rugged Sean Bean than a green-tinged cartoon ogre. Much easier on the eye, you’ve got to agree.
WHITER THAN WHITE
Britain’s most quoted accountant, ex-PwC partner John Whiting, has landed himself a prestigious new role at the government’s new Office for Tax Simplification, though he’s going to need to watch his mouth if he wants to keep hold of the job.
Whiting was at the launch of the OTS yesterday when he was asked if he was interested in staying on as the permanent director of the body when the interim year is up. He is, but exchequer secretary David Gauke could yet prove to be a spanner in the works.
“David and I are both great cricket fans – put us in a room together and we’ll be onto the subject within 30 seconds,” Whiting laughed. “I would hope to be in with a chance in 12 months time when it comes to making a permanent appointment, but it might well be subject to how much I’ve been arguing with David about who should bat at number six and seven for England…”
At the moment, the pair agree on how many specialist bowlers and batsmen the national team should field, though “things could easily escalate”, according to our tax guru. Let’s hope Gauke, who also plays for the Commons cricket team, can look past any sporting differences to the task in hand.
SPOT OF BOTHER
Horror over at Goldman Sachs, which has another crisis on its hands just days after settling the SEC’s fraud case against it with a soothing $550m payoff.
Dealbreaker reports that one of Goldman’s US trainees was sent home on the first day of the scheme earlier this week with the dreaded chickenpox. An announcement was duly made to the analyst class, urging those with symptoms to come forward to prevent a full-scale outbreak.
FANCY A CUPPA?
Good to know that even seasoned City folk aren’t averse to calling in some family favours when it comes to making their lives easier. Leisure analyst Mark Brumby – who recently left Astaire to set up his own venture, Langton Capital – frequently details the comings and goings of his offspring in his daily round-robin email. So it came as little surprise yesterday to read that two of his sizeable brood are this week down in London on work experience, learning the ropes at the new family business.
“Their yawns and stretches are coming on nicely and their ‘you simply cannot be serious’ expressions are well-practiced and get a good airing,” Brumby quipped. “Still, it’s good to have them down and my tea consumption has definitely gone up…”
The pair have clearly got the most elementary of business skills down pat.
A would-be entrepreneur has popped up on eBay with a view to pitching a banking idea to potential buyers. The seller – known only as Mr Puffett – claims to be a former banking consultant who has been working on his “innovative mortgage retail product” for years.
“Calling all mortgage lending institutions in the UK, private equity firms, or venture capitalists,” our entrepreneur writes, explaining that his mystery product is “guaranteed to grow your mortgage book”.
The details of the idea itself remain shrouded in secrecy, with our seller insisting on a non-disclosure agreement to be signed by any successful bidder, so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that he isn’t having much luck so far. (Not a single bid had been submitted for the idea at the time of going to press.) Perhaps there’s a reason why the good old-fashioned method of pitching face-to-face is so popular?
City catering firm Lusso has upped the ante for healthy eating in the workplace, having appointed nutritionist Amanda Ursell as a consultant. So what can staff at its clients, which include Investec, Norton Rose and Hogan Lovells, expect?
Ursell is a devotee of the traditional school of healthy living, advocating porridge instead of Danish pastries, protein-rich lunches instead of carb-guzzling, a low fat diet and so on and so on. But luckily for her City clientele, she’s no Dr Gillian McKeith health-fanatic.
“It’s all about finding a balance,” she tells The Capitalist, “and a fine balance it is in the City, too. Of course I’m going to say, try not to drink too much alcohol and try not to eat too many fatty foods and the like. But you can’t go in being too heavy handed, or it demotivates people. I’m not going to blast in wearing a white coat and tell people they must do this and mustn’t eat that.”
That’ll be a sigh of relief all round, then.