Davos forum: Green rock
The hills are alive with the sound of environmental spin. As half the City of London decamps to the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum, City Insider was amused to note how woke Davos organisers have become. The programme has Greta Thunberg (ahead of Donald Trump) leading a roster of six “world-class speakers”, five of them women. Until a few years ago, Davos delegates were mostly male and unreconstructed. But if Greta thinks she’s going to steal the stage, Davos Man has other plans, via something of a climate change supergroup. Less Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, more Carney, Fink & van Steenis. Outgoing Bank of England rock star Mark Carney will be joined on stage by his former backing vocalist Huw van Steenis, now gone to UBS, and Larry Fink, full-time climate activist and part-time BlackRock frontman. Other than a part-time green gig at the UN, Carney has been coy about future plans. But his Davos outing with Fink will spur rumours BlackRock is disbanding, with the duo planning a new outfit: GreenRock.
Andrea Orcel: No go
There were no celebratory drinks or cakes to see at Santander this week. Not surprising perhaps — it was the one-year anniversary of the odd rescinding of Andrea Orcel’s planned appointment as chief executive of the Spanish bank. The London-based banker had been all set to head to Madrid and had resigned as investment banking chief at UBS, when Santander took fright at the price tag and the feared collateral damage that would have accompanied the arrival of the no-nonsense Italian. Orcel is suing Santander as a result — for about €100m. The FT reported at the time that a contributory factor to the falling out between Orcel and Ana Botin, the Santander scion and chair, had been a dispute over “profile” — and explicitly who would be top dog at last year’s Davos. So will they both be there next week? City Insider hears not. Botin will front Santander’s presence as usual. But Orcel, having toyed with going, concluded he was too busy in London. Those lawyer meetings are pretty time-consuming.
Michael Tory: Back to health
After a serious medical scare late last year, Michael Tory — the ex-Lehman banker who founded and heads the Ondra advisory boutique — told colleagues in a telephone “town hall” this week that he’ll soon be back at work. “Things have been going worryingly well in my absence,” quipped Tory, with two deals done in the last fortnight, including Wednesday night’s sale of Nasdaq-listed Neon Therapeutics to BioNTech. But Ondra has been shrinking in recent years and this week also lost a top founding partner, Michael Baldock, who was appointed finance chief at healthcare client Abcam. Tory’s return to health is timely.
Duke of Westminister: Succession failure
It’s been a week of headaches for the British aristocracy. The 28-year-old Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, and his family are now without an heir apparent to run their property empire after Craig McWilliam, long groomed for the role, abruptly left for “private reasons”. After a decade at the group, McWilliam, who was chief exec of the Grosvenor Estate’s UK and Ireland business, had been due to take over the whole property arm, which runs £12.3bn of properties globally. The group will now “review succession plans”. Clearly it’s not only Meghan and Harry who have trouble rubbing along with their aristo bosses.
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