PR PRO FULD CORNERED AT COUNTRY RETREAT
SOMEONE has finally cornered former Lehman Brothers chief Dick Fuld, the “gorilla” of Wall Street, at his idyllic country pad in Idaho, just a week before the anniversary of the firm’s collapse.
“You don’t have a gun; that’s good,” was Fuld’s opening shot to the Reuters reporter, before adding: “I’ve been pummelled, I’ve been dumped on, and it’s all going to happen again. I can handle it. You know what, let them line up.”
He was also careful to stress that he wants to speak out but “nobody wants to hear it, especially not from me”.
So it’s interesting that Larry McDonald – who recently published a book in the UK called “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Incredible Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers” – claims Fuld is currently working behind the scenes on another book about the bank’s demise.
Of course, this tome, which is supposedly being penned by a couple of loyal ex-colleagues, will take the blame squarely off Fuld’s shoulders and put it onto those of the short-sellers he claims took the bank down. The whole thing has rather a whiff of the seasoned PR pro about it, doesn’t it?
Over to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden last night for one of the swankiest parties of the year: the GQ Men of the Year awards, hosted by actor James Nesbitt.
Guests including actresses Eva Mendes and Freida Pinto, director Guy Ritchie, racing driver Jenson Button and chef Marcus Wareing turned up at the event, which also saw a couple of familiar faces from the world of business and politics called up to the stage to collect awards.
The omnipresent Robert Peston, the Beeb’s business editor, picked up a gong for commentator of the year, while Vince Cable played to his City reputation by securing the award for the year’s “voice of reason”.
And shadow chancellor George Osborne, who won the politician of the year award, was presented with his trophy by former Tory leader William Hague, to the dulcet tune of “Gordon, You’re a Moron” by Jilted John. The Capitalist would be willing to bet Hague managed to coerce Osborne into matching him pint for pint after that little rib-tickler.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Evolve Capital boss Edward Vandyk – who’s renowned for his ruthless approach to turning around sinking companies – has been chatting about his City nickname, “Dr Death”.
“I’d like to say it doesn’t bother me at all, but it does sort of conjure up images of Dr Mengele, so it does a little,” he admits, good-naturedly. “But then again, it does have its good points – it certainly beefs up my reputation…”
To be honest, as far as it compares to the politically-incorrect City nicknames that were prevalent in the good old days, Vandyk has got off pretty lightly.
While we’re on the subject, it’s worth noting a potential casualty of Vandyk’s recent acquisition of Dowgate Capital.
Vandyk last year wrested his Astaire stockbroking empire – then called Blue Oar – from the hands of boss Andrew Monk, who’s now turned up in the chief executive’s spot at computer software group Formjet.
And as luck would have it, Formjet is also one of the names on the client list Astaire has inherited from Dowgate – at least for now, that is. Something tells me even Vandyk’s relationship with Formjet chairman Lyndon Chapman (the two cosied up to each other at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year) won’t be able to salvage that one.
LONG WAY DOWN
City workers trotting past PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Embankment Place offices yesterday might have been surprised to see a bunch of accountants being thrown off the roof.
Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration: the brave souls in question were actually taking part in a charity abseil organised by managing partner Richard Collier Keywood, in aid of the Against Malaria Foundation.
Apparently, Collier Keywood challenged the board and their personal assistants to the abseil at last year’s Christmas dinner, ordering them to take part or pay a forfeit. Those who were courageous enough to take the plunge – including Collier Keywood himself – have managed to raise over £25,000 so far, though I hear chairman Ian Powell, despite pledging a hefty amount of cash, was conspicuously absent from the rooftop himself. A touch of vertigo there, perhaps?
Bizarre fact of the day: according to insurer Royal & Sun Alliance, the Great Fire of London – which raged in the City a whopping 343 years ago last week – would have caused around £60.5bn of damage.
It certainly puts into context that £37bn the government pumped into RBS, Lloyds TSB and HBOS last year, doesn’t it?
CHEAPER THAN CHIPS
Interesting to hear that Dave Cameron has promised to put an end to the days of subsidised food and drink for MPs if he becomes Prime Minister at the next election.
Ministers might be able to get a salad for just £1.70 and a pint of Fosters for £2.10 inside the Houses of Parliament, but those prices are practically daylight robbery compared to what their MEP cronies are paying over in the European Parliament.
On a day trip to Brussels with London Mayor Boris Johnson last week, The Capitalist enjoyed a taxpayer-subsidised cheese sandwich that was cheaper than chips at just €0.95 (83p).