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Rent trouble at LTCM

LONG-TERM Capital Management (LTCM), the hedge fund whose near-collapse almost caused a global meltdown last year, is being sued by its landlord for $2.7m in back rent.

The sum claimed by Pinnacle Corporation, which has itself gone bust, may appear piddling in comparison with LTCM's former size - it controlled $125bn before last year's crisis - but it has managed to rattle the hedge fund.

Lawyers for LTCM said they had no intention of vacating the disputed offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, despite Pinnacle's claims that it owes two years' rent.

James Rickards, general counsel for LTCM, said: "This is a publicity stunt and a delaying tactic by a bankrupt landlord."

Last September a group of 14 banks led by Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch pumped $3.6bn into LTCM to rescue it from collapse. Hopefully they won't be called on again.

Arms party

THE BELGIAN who was appointed chief executive of Vickers last year, Paul Buysse (pronounced "bursar"), had a reception at the Belgian embassy thrown in his honour on Wednesday night.

The glittering occasion attracted many of the biggest players in the British arms industry.

The party was in recognition of the honours Mr Buysse has received both here and in Belgium. When he arrived at Vickers last year he sported the Belgian title "Chevalier". A few months later the Belgian government promoted him to a full "Baron". Then, in October, the Brits got into the act and awarded him an honorary CBE.

The Belgian ambassador, Lode Willens, had quite a guest list on Wednesday - diners included the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Charles and Lady Guthrie; Sir John Gray, the former UK ambassador to Brussels; and Sir Colin Chandler, the chairman of Vickers and former head of defence sales during Margaret Thatcher's government.

The party also boasted a number of Vickers' City advisers, including Peter Meinertzhagen, chairman of Hoare Govett, and Marcus Agius of Lazards.

Rugby fever

RUGBY WAS in the air the night that Helphire Group Plc won the "Plc of the Year" award this week. The top team from the company, which specialises in replacement vehicles for clients involved in accidents, was out in force for the recent ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Mark Jackson, the deputy chief executive and founder of Helphire, was joined by John Mumford, corporate finance director at Williams de Broe, Helphire's brokers.

Once the trophy had been presented, rugby madness took hold and Mr Mumford tried to "pass" the award to rugby-mad Mr Jackson - who failed to catch it. The trophy suffered somewhat as a result. Maybe Helphire should start a service for replacement awards...

Difficult deals

TALKING OF awards, Jon Moulton, that stalwart of the venture capital industry, collected the "Equity Provider of the Year" award at Tuesday's Acquisitions Monthly bash at the Cafe Royal on behalf of his latest enterprise, Alchemy Partners.

Before co-founding Alchemy, a private equity boutique, in January 1997, Mr Moulton started off at Citicorp Venture Capital, moving to Schroders in the late 1980s and then Apax Partners.

Alchemy completed 21 transactions last year, placing it second in the league table behind 3i.

Mr Moulton, a chess fanatic in his spare time, is known in the Square Mile as the king of the public-to-private deal at the moment.

His boutique took Ushers, the Trowbridge brewers, private and recently backed the unsuccessful management buyout offer of Vaux breweries.

As a spokesman for Alchemy said: "They specialise in difficult deals."