The City Diary: Sir Tom Hunter: Big losses hit entrepreneur’s charity giving
Slackbelly exposes the good the bad and the ugly of the Square Mile
Sunday 28 February 2010
Entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter said three years ago that his ambition was to give £1bn to good causes over his lifetime. He had all the usual accessories (ie, Bill Clinton) and was inspired by Carnegie's line about "a man who dies rich dies disgraced".
Unkind souls reckon he's found another way to satisfy the great philanthropist. Credit crunch losses prevented Sir Tom from donating to new causes in 2009 – but he did give £5.9m to existing projects in the year to March. I change tack and ask if he's still matey with Peter Cummings, the former HBOS financier. "Peter has been a friend of Tom's for years and they stay in touch," says a spokesman. So they see each other regularly? "They had a commercial relationship, so they don't really see much of each other in general for obvious reasons as he's no longer with the bank."
A bit of friction in the Hambro banking empire
It's a spat that private bankers are billing as Hambro vs Hambro, as relations become strained between two offshoots of Jocelyn Hambro's financial dynasty.
The current hostilities date back to 2000, when JO Hambro Capital Management sold its private client business, JO Hambro Investment Management, to Credit Suisse. The firms were then run by two of Jocelyn's sons: JOHCM by James and JOHIM by Richard. Limited overlap meant that everything ran pretty smoothly. Till now.
Last spring, Richard died of cancer. Soon after, Andrew Steel, his chief executive at JOHIM, left the company for "personal reasons" – only to emerge five weeks later at James's JOHCM – which then announced plans to launch a competing business, James Hambro & Partners.
Steel has since poached, Lord Balniel and William van Straubenzee, both former senior figures at JOHIM.
One private banker sneers: "I think [Steel's] 'personal reasons' are that he gets on with the Hambro family", while another wealth manager giggles: "There is a bit of friction about all this."
The Treasury: chancellors are always 'unpopular'
On his first day at the Treasury, Norman Lamont was informed by his officials that he was about to become "the most unpopular man in the country" – the former Tory chancellor told guests at a drinks party held by spread-better City Index last week. Lamont added: "In my time there, it was the only Treasury forecast that came true." Plus ça change.
Who thinks snow encouraged 'surge' in online gaming?
Here's Nigel Hicks, an analyst at Liberum Capital, questioning William Hill's chief executive, Ralph Topping, on Friday: Hicks: "Do you think the poor weather helped online?" Topping: "No, that's bollocks. The real world doesn't work that way. Sorry to be so diplomatic." And here's William Hill's press release on 7 January: "As Britain ground to a halt on Wednesday because of the snow, Williamhill.com reported a record-breaking surge, with tens of thousands of players online at once." What a turn-up for the books.
Goldsmith-funded Fitzdares bookie wants bigger bids
News on the proposed sale of Fitzdares, the bespoke bookie funded by Ben and Zac Goldsmith. After a couple of bid approaches last year, the firm asked its accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to quietly see if there was any appetite for a deal. That race now looks run.
Founder Balthazar Fabricius says: "Following various expressions of unsolicited interest we agreed to talk to any credible party who wanted to discuss buying the business. [But] in the end, we weren't prepared to sell for an amount that we believe we can make over the next 18 months."
He will not say who the interested parties were, but industry gossips reckon the serious suitors included Betfair and Paddy Power.
Four-minute miler Sir Roger Bannister's son does a runner
Four weeks ago, with all the turmoil in HSBC's insurance arm, I speculated that Clive Bannister, the division's managing director and son of the original four-minute miler, Sir Roger, might consider doing a runner. Last week, he announced that he'll be dashing off next month.
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