The business on: Christopher Flowers, Founder, JC Flowers

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The Independent Online

He's the chap buying that building society, right?

Spot on. Mr Flowers is in talks to pay £50m for a 49 per cent stake in Kent Reliance Building Society.



So who is he?

A Wall Street financier worth £1.5bn. Mr Flowers started out at Goldman Sachs – he was made partner at 31 – and then went solo. He made a mint buying up the ailing Long-Term Credit Bank in Japan, turning it around and selling it on after renaming it Shinsei (rebirth in Japanese). His consortium paid $1.1bn (£730m) and sold for $10bn (£6.7bn).



Kent Reliance sounds small beer compared with that.

What, the sponsor of the mighty Charlton Athletic? Actually, Mr Flowers sees this as his way into the UK banking sector, where State-owned assets are coming up for sale and consolidation is predicted.



More deals on the way, then?

Maybe, though Mr Flowers has a habit of being linked to transactions that somehow don't quite come off – Fortune magazine describes him as "being most famous for the deals he hasn't done". In the US, he came close to buying Bear Stearns and Sallie Mae, while in the UK he has bid on Northern Rock and Friends Provident. He specialises in investments in bombed-out financial-services groups, although Kent Reliance stresses it is not in trouble. Mr Flowers once described himself as a "low-life grave dancer".



Still, something of a whizzkid?

Let's hope so. But Mr Flowers hasn't always got it right. He's taken some stick for the advice he gave Bank of America on its purchase of Merrill Lynch, for example, which went badly wrong. And describing his funds' $1.5bn (£1bn) investment in Germany's Hypo Real Estate as a dog would be to put it kindly.



Anything else?

Well, Mr Flowers is a skilled chess player – he likes the strategy – and all profiles mention the high school yearbook tag line he chose 30 years ago: the quotation "the horror, the horror" from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. You have been warned.

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