The Insider’s been keeping a close eye on all the World Cup action, plus the sky-highs and investor-lows of the City
Hands up if you’re an AC/DC fan. Well, Barbon chief executive Martin Oliver certainly seems to be. He showed real broker determination to get some clients to the legendary rock band’s concert in Nice, France, recently. It started when their flight to the French resort was cancelled at the last minute, leaving Barbon’s clients very anxious. Not put off by the lack of aircraft, the property broker’s tenacious boss managed to get the last six seats on a BA flight to Marseilles, followed by “the drive from hell” through the floods of south-east France. Fortunately, they made it just in time to catch the show. An exhausted Oliver panted: “We weren't going to let a little thing like no aircraft and a 200km cab ride put us off getting our clients to see the best show around.” With all that bad weather, it’s lucky they weren’t “thunderstruck (yeah, yeah, yeah)”.
Any tips for Cabio Fapella and the boys?
So you thought Robert Green’s goalie blunder was a World Cup shocker? Well, check out this little mistake from an Insurance Times Fantasy Football South Africa enthusiast. I’ll save his blushes by keeping the Towergate fellow anonymous but, following Portugal’s 7-0 bashing of North Korea, he moaned: “I look at the score for the Portugal match and think how many points I’ll get for my Insurance Times dream team… But then discover that, instead of Ronaldo, I had signed Portugal’s Rolando!” D’oh!
Our Cape crusader
Fantasy football aside, at least the real World Cup has picked up after a rather lacklustre start. One man who’s had no time to get bored of the tournament is Broker Network chairman Grant Ellis. I’ve been reading his World Cup diary on the Insurance Times website and he’s having a whale of a time in the Cape, you’ll be pleased to know. As judge of the ‘best-dressed football fan’ competition, he even managed to pick up a pair of South African stunners – and sent in the photos to prove it. I’ll blow a vuvuzela to that!
Austerity’s coming home
A fool and his money are soon parted, as the saying goes, so it is fitting that comedian Frank Skinner almost lost his shirt investing in AIG. Skinner reportedly ploughed millions of pounds into the insurer after his bankers assured him it was a safe bet. Then he thought he’d lost everything when it announced big losses during the financial crisis. In fairness to Skinner and his bankers, the pre-crisis AIG must have looked a safe bet – but it never ceases to amaze me how many people pile cash into an industry that routinely plays chicken with typhoons and terrorists. Had Skinner been looking for a new home 30 years ago, no doubt he would have ended up as one of the Names caught up in the Lloyd’s LMX spiral.
Latest buzzword in the City …
Speaking of Lloyd’s, anyone who has been in and around the market in recent weeks will have noticed a distinct buzz about managing agency Canopius. The firm has installed a beehive in its offices to support biodiversity in the Square Mile as part of the International Year of Biodiversity. The firm appears to be taking the adoption very seriously – it’s installed bee-friendly plants on its roof terrace and will train a group of its staff to be bee-keepers. Reports that the firm participated in the scheme to drown out noise about its rumoured acquisition of motor insurer KGM have yet to be confirmed.
RSA’s hit record
RSA is attempting a new world record by flying thousands of feet over London with hundreds of screaming women. And no, before you ask, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Mile High Club. In fact, the insurer wants to break the world record for the highest ever gig to celebrate its 300th birthday with an air-borne performance by everyone’s favourite singer, James Blunt. The gig is on 29 June, but tickets are only available to listeners of radio station Heart. That rules me out then – I’m more of a Radio 4 man, myself. IT