The City Diary: A mole at Her Majesty's broker? Surely not
Slackbelly exposes the good, the bad and the ugly of the square mile
Sunday 21 March 2010
Malcolm Calvert, the former Cazenove partner who was convicted of insider dealing earlier this month, supposedly had a mole inside Her Majesty's broker. Contrary to reports, the investment bank has compiled a list of its employees who had knowledge of the six suspicious Calvert deals, many of whom are senior staffers and include those on the bank's Commitments Committee, which monitors all its transactions.
Cazenove won't reveal identities or numbers, and points out that the Calvert case concerned an individual who left in 2000, while no charges were ever brought against the bank. "We co-operated fully with the Financial Services Authority throughout their investigation," says a spokesman, "and will continue to support them in their efforts to ensure that the UK's financial markets are free from abuse."
Still, in a wider context, there is concern in the City that news of takeovers can leak prematurely (whichever firm is advising or being advised) and Caz has certainly worked on deals where outside investors have made some lucky punts.
On Manitowoc's offer for Enodis, the target had to make an unplanned announcement about its share price move, while Wimpey's shares ticked up before its merger with Taylor Woodrow.
Elsewhere, Alliance Boots rushed out a statement about the approach from KKR after traders suddenly started buying and the price of Corus stock rose in the weeks before it received an approach from Tata.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing in any of these cases, but it is humbling to learn that even the Queen's broker must be as vigilant as the rest of the City.
Fly BA? Not likely. Anstee goes Virgin
Here's a high-profile customer deserting British Airways because of strike fears. Nicholas Anstee, the City of London's Lord Mayor, is visiting South Africa this week and has switched to Virgin Atlantic for the trip. Will he turn again?
Watch your step on Lord Mayor's rug
On the first floor of Mansion House, Anstee's residence while he's Lord Mayor, is a long red carpet that runs between sets of pillars. It cost hundreds of thousands of pounds (£500 per square metre) but is supposed to last for 200 years. Visitors, of which there are 43,000 per annum, are complaining, however, that it keeps sliding around and doesn't line up with the floorboards. You'd think they might have something better to do, but, I wonder, has Mansion House tried Gripper Rod? "Thanks for the tip," sighs a spokesman.
'Ta very much' – Tata bags another honorary gong
Cambridge University has nominated Ratan Tata for an honorary degree, a pointless bauble for the vain from those touting for cash. Tata will add this award to the honorary certificates he's scooped from Ohio State University, the Asian Institute of Technology, the University of Warwick, and the London School of Economics. At least for the Harvard and Cornell University degrees he actually had to pass exams. What an exhibitionist.
Football manager issues a Goodfella's warning to Ryanair
A letter on the wall of Ryanair's Dublin HQ from the Football Association of Ireland takes the company to task about its habit of using images of unsuspecting celebrities to promote itself. The last two sentences read: "As they say in The Sopranos, doneventhinkaboudit. Capisci?" It's signed by the Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni.
Time to hang up the stirrups, Sam
You'll recall Sam Waley-Cohen, the amateur jockey-cum-commodity trader-cum-entrepreneur who promised to retire from racing after finishing fifth on Liberthine in the 2007 Grand National. At last week's Cheltenham Festival he had five rides – yet failed to record a winner. Time to revert to Plan A?
Rosebud reborn: Cinemas still await the story of Maxwell, in the mould of Citizen Kane
Lies Have Been Told: An Evening with Robert Maxwell is the play written by Rob Beacham which tells the story of the flamboyant life, crooked career and mysterious death of the bouncing Czech.
Beacham has been working with screenwriter Aleksandar Manic on a film version of the play (which I've never seen, but which apparently sails quite close to the wind). Now I hear that the first draft of their script has just been delivered to film producer Ed Pressman, the man behind films such as Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps, Thank You For Smoking, Hoffa and American Psycho.
Pressman – whose producing partner is Dale Djerassi, the husband of the old pension fraudster's daughter, Isabel Maxwell – reckons: "The script reads like a mystery, the way Citizen Kane was a mystery and explores different time periods of Maxwell's life".
One of the biggest mysteries about this film is: what's taking so long? It's been several years since Pressman announced the feature film version of Beacham's creation.
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