The City Diary: First London tests the patience of its investors
Slackbelly exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Square Mile
Sunday 05 September 2010
First London, the investment bank that attracted attention last year for its links to a convicted fraudster and its role in the short-lived takeover of Notts County Football Club, has gone into administration.
The move, triggered by angry creditors, has spooked shareholders in the former public company, as they wait for the overdue payment of £173m of "special dividends" pledged when the bank sold its First London Asset Management (Flam) to the mysterious Swiss Commodity Holding (SCH) in October.
None of the three promised staged payments – £115m of which is now five months overdue – have arrived with the investment bank. Flam, however, is held by a British Virgin Island registered company called Coremin. I'm told it is the new holding company of SCH, which had connections to insurance fraudster Russell King, who was also linked with First London. Sitting on Coremin's board is Andrew Cosentino, a former First London director and a US lawyer.
That may seem overly complex, but fear not. Andrew Turner, First London's last remaining director, confirms my story and insists that shareholders "will not be waiting much longer" for their cash. I suspect they might not share his confidence, however.
A small world
On a completely separate matter, Turner confirms that one Lee Cole and one Linden Boyne have been assisting First London as advisers. Could this be the same pair who are currently on a joint ticket defending a class action law suit in the US?
There, the duo are accused of ramping the shares in a public company called Electronic Game Card in a case that was launched earlier this year. EGC was also a major shareholder in a company called Prize Mobile Group. Its corporate adviser? First London.
Candover team takes a farewell bow
Malcolm Fallen, the boss of private equity group Candover, said last week that the company is winding itself up. Is he cursed? Apart from the buyout firm, Fallen has also worked for Arthur Andersen and, ahem, Polly Peck.
Candover, of course, made such unattractive investments that they couldn't even be palmed off to a Canadian pension fund. So which individuals were behind these punts? A quick look at the firm's website lists the following members of "the team": Javier Abad, John Arney, Richard Booth, Rutger Bruining, Raphaël Candelier, Mark Dickinson, Alexis Dormandy, Eric-Joost Ernst, Jim Graham, Allen Gu, Mikael Johansson, Simon Leefe, Carlos Robles, Nils Stoesser, Kit Tuke and Cyril Zivré. Take a bow.
British gold in non-jobs race
As part of my occasional series examining the gravy train that is London 2012 (despite it supposedly being the capital's second stab at an austerity Olympics) here's another list of non-jobs being advertised: BMX Manager, Look Operations Manager, Look Production Manager, Head of Games Readiness, Manager of Readiness Exercises and an Assistant Advance Manager of Torch Relay. It's the taking part that counts, I suppose.
Betfair avoids taint of cricket scandal
An intriguing footnote to the cricket betting scandal, that resulted in the suspensions of three Pakistan cricketers, including Mohammad Amir: Betfair has taken the precaution of checking if any of the suspects linked with the case have been using its website. So far, there's no sign of any punts by the accused. Considering the firm's advisers keep encouraging talk of a flotation, that must be a big relief.
In bed with Nokia: Baywatch's Pam adds her special style to phone ad
This is a gratuitous shot of Pamela Anderson, the pneumatic actress once famous for appearing in a TV show called Baywatch.
She is now fronting a campaign for mobile phone group Nokia (eagle-eyed readers will have spotted Pammy demonstrating how to use the phone in the picture), by shooting a short film in high definition using the firm's new N8 device. The short feature, called The Commuter, stars some chap called Ed Westwick, but they didn't send me a snap of him.
Apparently the plan is "designed to showcase the HD camera qualities of the Nokia N8 and is part of a multi million pound marketing campaign".
Whatever. As I recall, Anderson once had some misfortune with one of her own home movies. And I do hope that this effort is more successful than her last product promotion for the mobile industry. Three years ago she helped Virgin to advertise its mobile TV service. The service lasted nine months.
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