The Business On: Michael Spencer, chief executive, Icap

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The Independent Online

So will Spencer have to downsize his wine cellar?

Steady on now. Icap, the broker that lets banks trade a huge variety of financial instruments anonymously, still took in £867m for the six months to 30 September, which translated into profits of £186m, both about the same as last year. What's got the City all aflutter is that Icap warned that activity has slowed markedly over the last couple of months.

Why's that then?

Icap thrives on volatility and risk-taking by investment banks. They're scared at the moment so they're sitting on their hands. But Mr Spencer expects things to pick up next year so he'll be able to order his fine wine en primeur. But perhaps this year it will be Petrus rather than Pichon.

Will this get his rival Terry Smith smiling?

Don't be silly. If Icap's got a bit of a sniffle then it's quite possible that the rest of the industry will have picked up a cold, if not flu. Mr Smith is a big fan of boxing, but in this industry Mr Spencer is the heavyweight champion.

Especially now he'sgiven up politics?

Yes. Fortunately for his shareholders Mr Spencer realised that his talents lay in the boardroom rather than the House of Commons tea room. He stepped down from the board of the Tory party last year. To be fair, he doesn't really strike us as a Cameronista.

So Icap rolls on?

Put it this way, if the shaky outlook persists beyond next year, count on Mr Spencer to have something up his sleeve. There may even be a deal to open new markets for a company that Mr Spencer started in 1986 in a grotty office with a couple of screens.