Welcome to Capital Confidential — a weekly diary column featuring the best tidbits from around the U.K.’s business and political landscape from MarketWatch sister publication Financial News .
This week: Paul McNamara sparks a row over his personal pension investments; anecdotes from the IFR Awards; and Man Group’s latest award...
Brexit’s SIPP-ery slope
To Brexit, or not to Brexit: that is the question currently engulfing the City. But a row has broken out over whether an individual’s views on leaving the European Union should determine investment decisions. Passionate Remainer Paul McNamara, an emerging markets bond manager at GAM /zigman2/quotes/208155502/delayed CH:GAM -4.39% , is changing his own pension arrangements and removing his self-invested personal pension from fund shop Hargreaves Lansdown on the grounds that founder Peter Hargreaves is a prominent Brexiteer who donated £3m to the Leave campaign.
McNamara outlined his objections on Twitter: “I have an old SIPP with Hargreaves Lansdown, who I’m sick of. Any suggestions who I should move it to?” When his followers asked why he was switching, McNamara replied: “Hargreaves, basically”, adding that his reason was “Brexit. Been meaning to do it for years”.
McNamara tells Capital he is moving his SIPP to rival retail investment company Killik & Co. What about the argument that personal finance transcends political tribalism? “Not to put too fine a point on it but f*** that,” he says.
David Buik, the City veteran now at spread better Core Spreads, isn’t impressed by McNamara’s stance. “It is breathtakingly childish. It is fair to say you disagree with Brexit but Peter Hargreaves — I can’t speak highly enough of him,” he says, adding: “Mealy-mouthed people of that nature should grow up, behave in a proper manner and deal with things based on success, track record and what they stand for, rather than political views.” Hargreaves was unavailable for comment.
When it came to the IFR Awards 2018, held at the Grosvenor House hotel, it was a case of NFI for Capital. A PR exec at Refinitiv, formerly Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk business, which is the parent company of IFR, informed us: “Our investment banking analysts from New York are only over in London for a few days... there is a level of pressure from the business for us to make the most of the short time they’re in London.” This rendered us persona non grata at the awards but we still got the lowdown. Vis Raghavan, chief executive of JPMorgan /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM -1.79% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, collected the award for Bank of the Year for the second consecutive year, but his speech wasn’t greeted with respectful silence by other banks’ tables. When Raghavan said he was aiming for a JPMorgan hat trick next year, there was even booing and hissing.
Meanwhile, Princess Anne, present in her capacity as patron of Save the Children, pointedly mentioned she didn’t choose the awful jaunty music that had accompanied her entrance to the podium. There was also debate over Refinitiv winning Financing Package of the Year for “Refinitiv’s US$13.5bn loan and bond financing”. Given the mishaps, would these earth-shatteringly important U.S. Refinitiv analysts have had a better time that night reclining on Capital’s couch, drinking Camden Hells and watching Freeview?
Man about Twitter
Man Group /zigman2/quotes/206517236/delayed UK:EMG -1.28% has just pulled out of sponsoring prestigious literary award the Booker Prize, but the hedge fund heavyweight has won a new accolade. Data provider SEMrush conducted a study of hedge fund coverage on Google in 2018 and found Man Group to be the most-searched hedge fund in the U.K. Intriguingly, given the Booker Prize is held every October, SEMrush told Capital that “Man Group had a huge spike in October 2018”. Number two searched hedgie was CQS (though it now styles itself as an investment firm). Now that Twitter-loving Xavier Rolet has just taken over as CQS chief executive, will it be number one next year? Recent tweets from Rolet’s eclectic account range from him criticizing a Japanese restaurant in New York for inviting diners to catch their own fish to eat, to wondering: “Is a permanent lunar station the next step for China?”
Mobile app WeChat’s domination in China has become so powerful that it has become nearly impossible for western deal makers to reach investors or other bankers in the mainland via any other communications network. We hear that reaching financiers by phone, email or other chat forums is now so hazardous that several bond deals have recently been completed on WeChat, which is owned by Chinese multinational Tencent. Perhaps it’s not surprising that persistent rumors in China speculate a special WeChat messaging service for bankers is imminent.
Orcel making waves
Banking executives long ago mastered the art of damning with faint praise. “I’m sure he will keep busy. I hear he is very good... at water skiing,” said one such master at Davos about Andrea Orcel, whose appointment as chief executive of Santander /zigman2/quotes/202859081/composite SAN -3.80% was terminated by the Spanish retail bank last month. The faintest praise indeed.
Sky’s the limit
Chris Evans’s new breakfast show on Virgin Radio is being broadcast free of adverts as part of a sponsorship deal with Sky TV. Evans tells Capital he thinks this new commercial arrangement could soon be the new normal (Virgin Radio is part of the Wireless Group owned by News U.K., a subsidiary of News Corporation, the parent company of Dow Jones and Financial News.) “The flow an ad break-free format allows is the stuff dreams are made of,” Evans says. “It is the story of a product and its relationship with its consumers as opposed to bashing them over the head repeatedly with that time-weary, binary commercial psyche of FOMO [fear of missing out]. We may be the ones to have led the charge but I have a sneaking suspicion we will end up being remembered as the first of many. We shall see.” Or indeed, hear...
Millions have met their soul mate on Match.com but it’s not often that users of the online dating service are worth millions. Wealthy New York property investor Richard Cohen has used Match.com to go on dates, if previous media reports are to be believed. Word around Wall Street is that Cohen is now engaged to Vicky Ward, the New York-based British writer, whose unauthorized biography of controversial White House power couple Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will be published next month. Rumor has it the pair met on Match.com, but Ward denies that to Capital. Online dating isn’t for everybody...