Monday, 29 June 2009

Feast of Stephen to end in famine?

Much consternation about the potential £9.6m pay deal of Royal Bank of Scotland boss, Stephen Hester. Still, well placed RBS sources are continuing to speculate that the value of the bank might yet go to zero. So it might not matter.

Friday, 26 June 2009

BGC calls City hacks to lay

Here are the runners and riders for the (still) vacant City editorship at the Sunday Telegraph - at least according to David Buik, BGC Partners' genial odds caller.

Maggie Pagano - Independent on Sunday 4/1
Louise Armitstead – Daily Telegraph 4/1
Danny Fortson – Sunday Times 5/1
Jenny Davey – Sunday Times 6/1
Richard Wachman – Observer 7/1

I'd lay the lot (in a betting sense). Not one has made the Telegraph's short list.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

No respite for Horlick despite running Miles

It hasn't been a good couple of weeks for Nicko Miles, smooth City PR supremo and founder of M:Communications.
The £20,000-a-week story-killer was brought in by beleaguered fund manager and so-called Supermum, Nicola Horlick, to stem the torrent of hostile newspaper coverage about her battle with property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz (who objected to losing £15m of the £40m he'd invested with her).
Sadly for Nicko (whose vast girth makes even La Horlick appear svelte) his appointment has failed to halt the bad publicity - which seems to have developed from torrent to deluge. Still, he can claim one success: despite all the other financial pages covering the story ad nauseam, the Guardian has not seen fit to mention it once.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Carnaby goes all the way home

An outbreak of piggy flu at the Guardian Newspapers. Finance director John Carnaby has been sent home with a suspected case (he has always been a swine, say reporters) and the rest of the staff have been put on full alert.
Obviously, the jokes are almost too easy although (clearly) I wish him well.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Fancy that...

June 2009: "Treasury minister, Kitty Ussher, has been forced to resign after avoiding paying up to £17,000 in tax on the sale of her constituency home." Source: Daily Telegraph.

November 1993: "These are tricky times for students at Balliol College, Oxford, bastion of liberal values for more than 700 years. The problem is tampons. Undergraduates have voted to pay a 'Tampax tax' to provide women at the mixed college with free sanitary protection. The tax was proposed by Kitty Ussher, a PPE student and women's group member, who said women were 'economically disadvantaged by a biological necessity'." Source: Observer.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Mystery Barclays payment leaves us feeling a little Green

Apparently, Amanda Staveley, isn't the only person who got a big fee for helping Barclays Bank secure a lifeline from the Middle East.
Sir Philip Green, the feisty retailer behind Top Man, also got £12 million, I am told.
Staveley, you will recall, is the former girlfriend of Prince Andrew who nearly went bankrupt before establishing a career as a fixer.
She got £40m for helping line up a £7bn cash injection by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan.
If you ask Barclays about Sir Philip, they get sniffy and a little defensive. "We didn't give him any money," say the bankers.
The money isn't disclosed in the prospectus, so if this tale is true we must assume that it was paid by somebody else in the chain. Surely not?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Warner homes in on tedious new challenge

So after 87 years and 67,000 turgid on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-hand-that columns, tedious Indy City editor Jeremy Warner is finally moving on.
He managed to make his Gorkana entry about his move even more boring than his wittering Outlook pieces. An achievement of sorts.
Some unkind wags reckon his arrival at the Telegraph could wipe out the entire uplift in circulation gained from the MPs expenses scandal - due to the number of readers who die from boredom. Surely not!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Hampshire could land Nicola in a right Horlicks

Meanwhile in Nicola Horlick's world, how are relations between the City "superwoman" and Hampshire County Council?
The Hampshire pension fund is the second largest shareholder in Bramdean Alternatives with a 19% stake -- behind Vincent Tchenguiz who has 28%.
Tchenguiz wants to axe the board and liquidate the fund. If Hampshire agree with him, that's probably curtains.
Bramdean also manages £25 million of Hampshire pension fund cash -- a mandate that could be under threat....

Monday, 8 June 2009

Nicola Horlick - an inspiration

I'm told that there are many unkind City types who are convinced that Nicola Horlick is Matt Lucas's inspiration for Marjorie Dawes. Are they by any chance related?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

The Secrets of Steve Tappin

Has Steve Tappin - once a headhunter, then an author (briefly) of The Secrets of CEOs and now some sort of coach to chief execs - been pulling a fast one with his entry on Wikipedia?
Tappin has been claiming via the online encyclopedia that he's a mentor to some of the top names in British business, including Sir Terry Leahy, John Connolly, and Andy Haste, posting: "Steve is a CEO confidant for some of the CEOs of major global corporations such as Tesco, Deloitte and RSA applying the Secrets of CEOs to global corporations".
Oh really?
Tesco clarifies: "Sir Terry was interviewed last year for a book co-authored by Steve and Andrew Cave called The Secrets of CEOs. I am not aware of any other connection between the two."
RSA adds: "I can confirm that Andy Haste has not hired Steve Tappin, or anyone else, as a mentor," while Deloitte simply refuses to comment.
Strangely, after I raise this, Tappin's Wikipedia entry miraculously changes.
It now reads: "Steve is a CEO confidant for some of the CEOs of major global corporations. He is actively involved in many of top performing global businesses such as Tesco, Deloitte and RSA applying the Secrets of CEOs.”
Which is quite different.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Horlick concentrates on hubbie's career

Embattled fund manager Nicola Horlick may be fighting for her professional life, but she still finds time to promote the embryonic literary career of her husband Martin Horlick (Baker, as was).
On June 13th, just days before the crucial EGM called by her client, shareholder and landlord, Vincent Tchenguiz, at which he hopes to oust the board and liquidate her Bramdean Alternatives fund, the couple are off to the Althorp Literary festival.
There they will perform their unusual "In Conversation" double act. What's more they've been invited up to the Big House to entertain the Earl himself. A potential bidder for Bramdean?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

George leaves them wanting more

I don't usually do requests, but my story about the departure from BP of Lord Browne's former speechwriter George Trefgarne has prompted a string of pleas for a series of GT's greatest hits.
Treffers, you'll recall, once hilariously infuriated SNP leader Alex Salmond by suggesting that the UK give Scotland (instead of Gibraltar) to Spain. But among his other famous gems was, in 2004, accusing a string of "lazy, middle-aged" Tory MPs of hogging safe seats which should have been given over to the next Conservative generation.
There were just a couple of small flaws with the bed-blocking examples used in George's lucid argument, as two of those charged of idleness had an excuse for their Commons absence. They had recently undergone major heart surgery!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Here's real recycling for you...

"Stuart Rose, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, who is spearheading a £200m plan to reinvent M&S as one of the UK's greenest companies, has been driving gas-guzzling Bentleys on his days away from the office. Mr Rose told journalists he was ordering an environmentally friendly hydrogen-powered BMW for his own use when he introduced the green initiative this year. But, the Guardian has learned, he has owned two Bentleys for the past year." Guardian/Observer, April 9, 2007.

"Before I leave, Rose tells me he needs to make 'an honest confession'. He looks slightly uncomfortable and starts shuffling papers on the table in front of him. 'I haven't told you a lie,' he begins, hesitantly. 'I have sold my Bentley, but I bought another one. But I only drive it on Saturdays and Sundays and it doesn't do more than about 8,000 miles a year, but it is my little indulgence. I wouldn't want you to think that I'd misled you'." Guardian/Observer,May 31, 2009.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Flipping Balls

I see that my old pal, wannabe Chancellor Ed Balls, is preaching to David Cameron that family commitments are no excuse for inflated expense claims. Balls should know.
The Schools Secretary - and his Housing Minister wife Yvette Cooper - first caught the attention of Channel Four Dispatches back in 2007 for repeatedly "flipping" their main residence between Yorkshire to London and claiming £27,000 subsidy on the £438,000 mortgage on their "second home" in Stoke Newington. That's despite their children attending local north London schools (while I'm willing to bet that their "first home" mortgage is also considerably lower).
The case for the Balls and Cooper defence back then? "They do consider Yorkshire to be their main family home but they are ministers and do not want to be apart from their children. They can nominate their London home as their second home."
That's all right, then.