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Business News

Credit crisis diary: A housebuilder who is still smiling

Good to see that Taylor Wimpey boss Pete Redfern has at least managed to keep his sense of humour as he attempts to restructure the company's debts in the face of the worst housing downturn for 20 years. An internal email from the housebuilder's boss to staff, updating them on the latest developments, begins: "Given that our share price is 'somewhat volatile' and that over the last few weeks we have had more press coverage than if Angelina Jolie gave birth to Siamese twin chimpanzees, I thought it was time for a further update."

Memo to Nicola: publish or be damned

Good old-fashioned knife twisting on the Bronte Capital blog, which points out that Nicola Horlick's Bramdean claimed the company always spends several months doing due diligence reports on managers before investing with them. Now Bramdean faces losing the 9.5 per cent of its assets invested with Bernie Madoff, Bronte Capital is demanding Horlick publishes the report it produced following all that scrutiny. Talk about kicking someone when she's down.

Hoist on her own petard

It is, of course, very mean to remind people of what they've said in the past. But does Horlick remember the interviews she gave following the launch of Bramdean Asset Management three years ago? One includes this memorable quote: "Women are more conservative – it is something to do with nurturing and protecting your funds." Delighted Bramdean investors must be feeling very nurtured right now.

Bernie's words come back to haunt him

Still, Nicola is not the only one eating her words. Which prominent New York financier said this last year about the foolproof nature of regulation in the US: "It's impossible for a violation to go undetected – certainly not for a considerable period of time"? Step forward Madoff himself, who claimed in a television interview that financial fraudsters were always caught very quickly. There's always the exception to the rule, as Bernie was no doubt mentally adding.

Former gamekeeper gets poached

He was the scourge of Wall Street in his New York Attorney-General days. Would Eliot Spitzer have collared Madoff if he had stayed in that job, rather than running successfully for Governor (before a call-girl scandal forced his resignation)? Alas, maybe he would not have, given that Spitzer, according to US National Public Radio, is telling friends that his family firm has lost money in the scandal.