ALL THIS palaver over outrageous Parliamentary expenses has got Square Milers reminiscing about the good old days in the City, when sky-high monthly expense bills were de rigueur.
Of course, there are the usual tales of drink, drugs and girls, as well as a few quirkier ones – one gentleman who went to Ascot to entertain clients and claimed for his top hat, which had blown off in the wind, for instance, or people being invited out for a curry and finding themselves on a long-haul flight to India. There was even one particularly choosy chap who rejected a Ferrari he had been given by a soft commission house because it had quadraphonic sound (whatever that might be), instead of octophonic as he had requested.
Perhaps one of the best City expenses tales of all time, however, must be the former Cheuvreux broker who once attended the Monaco Grand Prix with clients and ended up staying at David Coulthard’s Columbus hotel. He took the clients to the Amber Lounge in the evening and danced the night away with a variety of taggers-on, racking up a stonking £52,000 bill, before retiring to the hotel and chalking up another £18,000 on the tab.
The government would do well to take a leaf out of Cheuvreux’s book, though – the bank refused point-blank to foot the bill, and the poor chap in question is still paying off his debt years later. I hear he now goes exclusively by the name “Amber” in the City…
What a surprise to see a bunch of normally hard-hearted hacks giving a fond round of applause to Dame Clara Furse, who bowed out from her position at the helm of the London Stock Exchange yesterday.
Furse has been clobbered lately for the group’s faltering share price and for reporting a pre-tax loss of £250m on her last day in the job before handing over to new boss Xavier Rolet.
Still, at least the steely matron herself didn’t betray a hint of emotion after eight years in the role – the only concession she made to her departure was to make a joke about wanting to spend a long, quiet summer having a rest.
PAR FOR THE COURSE
Tongues were wagging yesterday as the City members of the Fixed Interest Golfing Society (FIGS) returned from their three-day annual golfing jaunt in Le Touquet, France.
Ian Falconer of Charles Stanley won the coveted individual title, while this year’s captain John Bolingbroke of Crystal Financial Management, Hoodless Brennan’s Roy Phillips and the retired John Harrison pulled together to lift one of the team trophies.
There was stiff competition, too, for the wooden spoon prize – a rather fetching statuette of a bronze bunny golfer with detachable club. I hear Chris Kyle, also retired, who has been in possession of said trophy for a number of years, was distraught that the bunny was awarded on count-back to Monument Securities’ Trevor Cooper instead. (There’s always next year, eh?)
Of course, in addition to the sporting escapades, the event’s evening dinners were as debauched as ever.
One particular society member, who shall remain nameless, brought three friends all the way to France in his Rolls Royce just for the entertainment, despite being unable to compete due to injury. Two of the four had already been put to bed even before the appearance of the main course, though The Capitalist understands all managed to get themselves up at the crack of dawn the following day to show their faces at breakfast. Now that’s the City trading-floor spirit.
City financiers always enjoy taking down their Mayfair-based rivals a peg or two, so they’ll be pleased to hear Chris and Jeff Galvin, the brothers behind hedgie hangout Galvin at Windows, the eaterie at the top of the Park Lane Hilton, are opening a new fine dining restaurant in the City.
The brothers have picked out 19th century St Botolph’s Hall in Spital Square for the site of their new venture, just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station.
“We will deliver democratic dining: from ‘grand cuisine’ in the restaurant, cocktails and fine wines in the bar, and a classic ‘café de luxe’,” is Chris Galvin’s take on things.
The restaurant is due to open in October, and as long as the City’s expenses policies have been relaxed a little by then, The Capitalist predicts it’ll do a roaring trade.
TOP OF THE PILE
Word on the street is that Andy Hornby, the erstwhile chief executive of troubled bank HBOS, has firmly established himself as the most in-demand candidate in the City jobseeker pool.
Hornby has apparently already turned down numerous job offers in the quest for the perfect position to while away the time, while many more remain in the pipeline.
“I reckon Andy came out of the whole HBOS nightmare relatively unscathed,” one of his chums tells The Capitalist.
“It was sensible of him to give back some of his cash rewards, and he’s obviously got a barrel-load of marketable skills which would be very useful for a lot of City institutions.”
Watch this space.