Monday, 31 May 2010

Goodnight to Red Knights

I read that the Red Knights bid to buy Manchester United is on ice. You don't say.
The club's bonds include a change of ownership clause - yet, to the surprise of the bondholders, the putative bidders failed to seriously engage with them. Was the move ever really serious or just a publicity stunt?

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Sindy Column...

Why is BG Group meeting with Prince Andrew three times in five weeks? For this week's column, click here.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Rothschild caught offside again

Might investment bank Rothschild be regretting ever getting involved in sports finance?
David Moores, the man who sold Liverpool FC to the cash-strapped Tom Hicks and George Gillett, says that the bank (which was representing the two Americans) "telephoned a non executive director of LFC, Keith Clayton, to assure him that both were good for the money".
That misjudgement comes on top of another infamous Rothschild endorsement, this time of Qadbak - the mysterious British Virgin Island-based fund which supposedly was going to bankroll Sven Goran Eriksson's Notts County into the Premier League and buy the BMW Sauber Formula One team.
Despite nosey journalists questioning Qadbak's credentials for months before it vanished, the dodgy fund's reputation was sustained by the unquestioning support of Rothschild banker, Meyrick Cox. He told the Times that Qadbak was a "wholly reputable organisation”. D'oh!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Budget is taxing the spreadies

I see that there's much speculation in financial freesheet, City AM, that previously tax-free spread betting gains are going to be clobbered with capital gains tax in the emergency budget.
That would be a monumentally stupid move, as one of the unspoken facts about the spread betting industry is that most punters don't actually win, so the government would be introducing a new rule where most of them could simply write their routine losses off against tax.
Michael Fallon, the Tory MP tipped to chair the Treasury Select Committee, is well aware of all this, but the stories are still causing much consternation among the spreadies, as such a move would cancel one of the industry's big draws.
To illustrate how dear they hold their tax-free selling point, one provider has just shelled out on a massive ad campaign which is ready to go straight after the budget. It plans to inform punters that they can counter any CGT rises by using tax-free spread betting. Let's hope City AM has got its facts wrong.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Caring over-eggs the Green

Richard Caring, the rag trader who made his fortune importing Sir Philip Green's underpants, has been closely involved with the redesign of Wentworth, the golf course he owns which has just hosted the BMW PGA Championship.
In fact, he over-ruled his course designer, Ernie Els, regarding the controversial changes to the 18th hole, where many of the players have been complaining that the green is now too high.
"Did we screw it up? Maybe we did," Caring admitted over the weekend. "[The green] would have been even higher if it had been left to me. [Ernie] was right and I was wrong."
Who'd have thought it? Caring's a decent golfer (he once played off two) but hardly in the class of Els, who's a three-time Major winner. So you'd have thought the businessman might have listened. Instead, his countermand looks a bit like Els advising him on where to position the gusset on a pair of smalls. Solid work.

Sindy Column...

For this week's effort, click here.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Silly bit of trivia: S&P 500 - exactly flat on year

JP Morgan picks the wrong line up

Investment bank, JP Morgan, has got itself plenty of easy publicity by using quants to predict that England will win the World Cup this summer. But is this another example of why these mathematical models are so often flawed?
Apparently, the JPM system uses rankings from Fifa and bookmakers' odds as two "valuation metrics" for the 32 teams. Hmm. As any football punter knows, these measures are notoriously inexact, as bookmakers offer prices, not probabilities; while the Fifa rankings have never shown any useful correlation with which country actually lifts the World Cup.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

German deficiency

If the Germans have banned short-selling, how am I going to replace my worn out lederhosen?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Swire emerges from behind the curtain

Having become the new minister of state for Northern Ireland, I see that Hugo Swire has resigned as chairman of perennially embattled photo booth company, Photo-Me.
This will be a relief to friends of Swire, who could never understand why the smooth former Grenadier Guard was demeaning himself by volunteering to referee the constant internal squabbles at the company.
Some speculated that the MP for East Devon's motivation to stay in the chairman's role might have been that he is not a man of massive means (despite being a scion of the Swire shipping dynasty) and certainly Swire's £120,000 salary was an attractive one for a part-time role at a small company.
He will now take the £40,000 minister of state top-up to his parliamentary salary instead - which seems fair. The spats in Northern Ireland aren't nearly as taxing to sort out as those at Photo-Me.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Media news...

More ominous news at the embattled Guardian Media Group? MD Tim Brooks has summoned all staff to a company meeting next week, in which Brooks, editor Alan Rusbridger, and departing chief exec, Carolyn McCall, will be addressing the troops.
"There will be four identical briefings, and you will soon receive an invitation to one of these briefings from your administrator," Brooks write ominously. "We have also arranged separate briefings for staff in Manchester and both our print centres." Developing...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sindy Column...

The Solicitors Regulation Authority now has FSA-banned Andrew Greystoke in its sights. Click here.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Wicked Whisper

Which renowned (and well refreshed) Westminster operator was stretchered off from his own election party after he lost a battle with gravity?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Media news...

Lawrie Holmes, the Sunday Telegraph's new deputy City editor, has left after just six months. Word coming out of Tel Towers is that Holmes and his boss, Kamal Ahmed, were not getting along.

One in the eye for Loaded

These people might be doing me out of a job. I can merely print extracts from the transcript (my itallics)...

"The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint from a woman that an article headlined 'Wanted! The Epic Boobs girl!', published in the February 2010 edition of Loaded, intruded into her privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors' Code of Practice. The article featured a number of photographs of the complainant - who was said to have the 'best breasts on the block' - taken from the internet and offered readers of the magazine a reward of £500 for assistance in encouraging her to do a photo shoot with it. The complainant said that the article was intrusive: the magazine had published her name and the photographs, which had been uploaded to her Bebo site in December 2006 and had since been taken from there and published without permission across numerous websites ... The complainant's photograph, for example, came up in the top three in a Google image search on the word 'boobs'. At the time of complaint, there were 1,760,000 matches that related to her and 203,000 image matches of her as the 'Epic Boobs' girl."
The Commission added that it "will continue to think and act flexibly in relation to this challenging area".

Monday, 10 May 2010

Sindy column...

Are Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones even worse at business than Rachel Elnaugh? For this weekend's effort, click here:

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Party politics

The Conservative Party keeps on saying that it is not taking victory for granted and that it has not arranged a victory party. Oh really? So what event have the Tory's top donors been invited to at Altitude in Millbank Tower ce soir?

Has Worcester been on the sauce?

I read in the Times that pollster Robert Worcester, the founder of MORI, reckons that the colours of the FA Cup winners mirrors those of the triumphant political party during an election year. Really?

2005: Labour (Red) Arsenal (Red)
2001: Labour (Red) Liverpool (Red)
1997: Labour (Red) Chelsea (Blue)
1992: Conservative (Blue) Liverpool (Red)
1987: Conservative (Blue) Coventry (Blue)
1983: Conservative (Blue) Manchester United (Red)
1979: Conservative (Blue) Arsenal (Red) etc, etc...

A comment made after lunch, I presume.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

City analysts have their beer goggles on

I read that our clairvoyant City analyst community is excellently briefed these days. Not in the leisure sector, it seems. Shares in pub operator JD Wetherspoon have slumped by almost 10% after weak third quarter trading - news that will give clients of UBS (who were told last week to buy JDW and dream of a price target of 590p) and Citigroup (price target 740p) a thumping hangover. The shares closed today at 491.8p, which just goes to prove SlackBelly's first rule of engaging with large pub chains: always go for the shorts.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

City Index joins GC-H creditor queue

A fabulous story from the Daily Telegraph today which should act as a warning to anyone thinking of opening a spread betting account.
Geoffrey Conway-Henderson (crazy name, really crazy guy) was one of the first people hired by
Michael Spencer, the founder of interdealer broker ICAP, when he was setting up the business. So one can assume he trousered a few sovs during his career.
Sadly, GC-H seems to have given most of it back to Spencer via
City Index, the spread betting business the Tory treasurer also set up.
This prompts a couple of thoughts. One: these people can't help themselves - if you make a million in the City, go home, stop reading the FT and learn how to cook.
Two: If even City "experts" like Conway-Henderson can lose their shirt (if not all of their names) spread betting really is very risky. Like the ads say, you may lose more than your initial stake...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Sindy column...

Is there a spat developing between Goldman Sachs's joint UK boss, "Fat" Mike Sherwood, and smoothy-chops PR man, Lucas van Praag? Click here.