WHILE all the big British bank bosses are pitted against each other this week in terms of first-half profits, Spanish bank Santander’s UK boss António Horta-Osório has been enjoying the glory of a rather more frivolous accolade.
Horta-Osório became chief executive of Abbey in August 2006, after long stints at the helm of the bank’s Portuguese and Brazilian operations. And since then, I hear the dark and handsome chap has been turning the heads of many a well-heeled City lass with his Portuguese good looks.
“I’d say he just might be the best looking man in the whole of the banking world,” swoons one high-flying lady, with a faraway look in her eyes. “We’re all extremely taken with him…”
Looks like we might just have a late entry into The Capitalist’s recent – and exceedingly popular – list of the ten hunkiest gentlemen in the City.
With all the new-fangled construction work going on in the City, it comes as a welcome surprise when developers are keen to embrace the past – a strategy to which restaurateur Simon Parker Bowles is only too happy to adhere.
Parker Bowles, the former brother-in-law to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is in the final stages of preparation for the opening of his new eatery in the Square Mile, a second branch of his original Green’s restaurant and oyster bar in Mayfair. He’d originally contemplated buying two new sites, one in the City and the other in Canary Wharf, though when he heard that the old Lloyds banking hall on Cornhill had become available, he decided to throw all his eggs in one, rather larger, basket.
Parker Bowles is keeping all the old structures in the building, right down to the black horse mosaic in the floor, though trivia fans will be interested to know that the logo was actually there well before Lloyds entered the building.
“The building was once owned by Humphrey Stokes, an early banker, and his logo at the time was a black horse,” he tells me. “When Lloyds took over the building, their logo was a beehive, but they took the black horse emblem for themselves and have used it ever since.”
Much consternation yesterday on the rooftop terrace at Coq D’Argent, where the Square Mile’s lunchtime fine dining crowd were shocked to find an unwanted visitor scurrying about among the table legs.
The visitor in question – a little mouse – caused havoc as a number of waiters made a dash to try and capture it, nervously batting away at the poor little blighter with a pristine white napkin.
Luckily for the restaurant, none of the assembled City gents jumped onto their chairs squealing, though all looked decidedly put out at the interruption to their elegant corporate lunches as they lifted their feet clear of the floor.
Whoever was of the opinion that extravagant City parties were a thing of the past had better think again.
City A.M. reader Stuart Crofton and a bunch of enterprising colleagues at accountancy firm Ernst and Young have decided to take part in a Prince’s Trust challenge to Borneo in October and have been brainstorming about potential fundraising ideas. Yet there’ll be none of this tombola mumbo-jumbo, thank you very much. The team have decided instead to host a masquerade ball for 600 City guests next Friday 14 August, in the hope of raising £8,000 towards their £20,700 target.
Masks will be compulsory until the grand unmasking at 11pm at the event, to be held at the Gibson Hall near Bank, with champagne prizes for the best traditional and non-traditional male and female efforts on the night. And what’s more, the team are also putting together a charity auction, with lots including Halloween party tickets at a country house hotel, bungee jumping and even an original Picasso.
Interested parties should email email@example.com for ticket details.
Poor “Wee” Willie Walsh really has had a rough couple of months, hasn’t he?
After a catastrophic tumble into the red for British Airways over the past financial year, the airline’s embattled chief executive is now faced with axing a large proportion of the company’s workforce to save costs – and it’s probably fair to say the policy isn’t exactly going down well.
The latest instalment is that tongue-in-cheek financial website iBall has made a video about the situation, showing Walsh as a mock horror-film “slasher” – and they’ve given him the less-than-illustrious nickname of “the demon barber of Old Heathrow”.
Still, at least his peers haven’t escaped the site’s notice. “We now have two ghouls on the scene,” cackles the narrator. “The demon barber… and the phantom raspberry blower of old London town.” The latter, in case you were wondering, is larger-than-life Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.