It wasn't quite the Hollywood Hills, but yesterday analysts, brokers and fund managers flocked to central London for the Thomson Reuters Extel awards, the self-styled Oscars of the City.
The awards celebrated their 35th year with nearly 400 converging on the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings of a new venue, the newly merged sponsor and a lunchtime slot, one thing stayed the same: banking group UBS cleaned up.
The Extel survey and awards are an institution in the City – the event describes itself as the "most extensive assessment professional study of the pan-European investment community", and with 200,000 votes from 1,600 firms across Europe, few in the industry argue.
They were hosted yesterday by Greg Dyke who made a few jokes at the expense of Bear Stearns and Northern Rock, but cautioned about "talking ourselves into a recession".
He also had a dig at his former competition during a light-hearted electronic voting session. "This is an ITV production," the former BBC director general warned. "It doesn't mater who you vote for, Ant and Dec will win."
The awards presentation was mercifully short and to absolutely no one's surprise, UBS, once more, dominated the winners' podium. It picked up the award for "Leading pan-European Brokerage Firm for Equity and Equity-Linked Research" – think Best Picture at the Oscars – for a staggering eighth year in a row. It had added three others to its haul by the end.
One investment professional in the audience said: "They have a strong team across the sectors. They also have the best marketing team."
One broker at the ceremony said that banks were more desperate than ever to win in the aftermath of "unbundling". Fund managers must now pay directly for research rather than brokers providing it as a "bundled" service. Extel's survey published yesterday said fund managers paying for research put the highest value on fresh thinking and new ideas.
For "Best Actor," read "Leading pan-European Individual Equity Analyst". The winner was Andrew Wood of Sanford C. Bernstein, who heads up its food manufacturers team, for the second year in a row.
The two new awards included the Leading Pan-European Hedge Fund, which was scooped by GLG Partners. The award was picked up by co-founder and managing partner Pierre Lagrange, to general approval. "He's amazing. A really successful, but really humble guy," one onlooker cooed.
Other highlights included JP Morgan Asset Management beating last year's winner Fidelity to be crowned top European fund management firm.
This was the first year of the awards sponsored by the newly merged Thomson Reuters. The traditional sponsor, Thomson, bought its rival this year, and welcoming speeches were given by the head of the merged group, Tom Glocer, and his right-hand man, Devin Wenig, both formerly of Reuters.
The ceremony broke up pretty quickly after the last award. Unlike the Oscars, there were no lavish after-parties, as the professionals quickly dispersed to Mayfair, the Square Mile and Canary Wharf. Although with the plaudits, and probably a whacking great bonus, Mr Wood and the team from UBS were expected to celebrate late into last night.Reuse content