A group of Cambridge businessmen is going back to the "roots of the industrial revolution" by raising £50m for a new lending institution to help revive the East Anglian economy.
Banker, entrepreneur and violin collector Nigel Brown is the brain behind the Cambridge Commercial Lending Company which had its first meeting of directors last week. He has also appointed the first chief executive and bank manager to-be, Peregrine Banbury, the ex-head of Coutts private bank, and he is applying to the Financial Services Authority for a banking licence. Another director is David Gill, a former head of technology at HSBC.
Mr Brown said on Friday: "Once we have the licence, our plan is to name it either the Cambridge Boring Bank or the Boring Bank of Cambridge. After the financial collapse, people want to know that banks are really, really boring again – but trustworthy. They also want to see a bank manager again, get advice and all those basic things which are sadly lacking in banks today."
Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has often extolled the virtue of being boring.
The financiers will start by making loans to businesses which have given the region its Silicon Fen sobriquet. Most of the £50m comes from a local institution but Mr Brown, the chairman of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, is in talks with other investors.
The bank is not his first big financial venture – he recently retired as chairman of NW Brown, a financial services boutique, and has played a key role in the local "angel" network. "It's only by making banking boring that real investment gets to the right places in the economy, just as bankers did during the industrial revolution," he said.