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Athens in the Dark

So farewell then, Yanis. As the Graeco-German wars escalate into political rowdyism, David Cowell of Myddleton Croft Investment Managers  pines for  the days when democracy meant trying to see the other side’s point of view. But hey, anarchy’s a Greek word too, isn’t it?


Firstly, congratulations to Julie who has been appointed Managing Director with effect from 1st July. I shall continue in my role as chairman, rubbish remover and chief tea maker. [Congratulations from us too, Julie! Ed]

Secondly, apologies for the delay in transmission. This was due to the fact that we had no internet on Friday. Whether this was due to the thunderstorms the previous night or something stuck up the Virgin tube, I know not.


Former FSA chief executive Sir Hector Sants is to join Swiss private banking group Julius Baer International as chairman from 1 July. On the same vein, I was recently shown the AGM notice for Nationwide – a bank in all but name – together with the short CVs of the non-execs standing for re-election. One was responsible for operations at Deutsche Bank; one is ex CEO at National Australia Bank, and (this is the daddy) one was Group Deputy chairman and chairman of the Board Risk Committee (his capitals) of Lloyds Bank for four years from 2010. All of these companies have been involved in naughties during their watch so why do I get the feeling that in big business one is rewarded for failure?


I don’t normally grace the Grexit situation with attention but it appears that, with the main protagonists having got bored with political hokey-cokey, it was Syriza’s plan from the start to leave the euro and that they merely tried to lever the best terms on the off-chance that the big boys would cave in to preserve ‘stability’. The finance minister is famous for his work on game theory and at Sydney University, where he was a lecturer, as being only 5 obols to the drachma. Doubtless on Sunday we will see if the Greek people prefer sanity or the alternative but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. [Alas, it was not to be. Will the last man with a euro coin for the Parthenon’s electricity meter please step forward? Thank you. Ed.]


Caledonia Investments’ acquisition of a majority stake in Seven Investment Management will allow the firm to think long-term and retain its independence, 7IM chief executive Tom Sheridan says. Question: How does swapping two external owners for one retain independence? Aegon and Zurich Insurance sold their stakes in 7IM, with Caledonia investment trust investing up to £77m in cash to acquire 94 per cent of 7IM Holdings and the rest going to the staff. The deal values the investment manager at £100m.


At the risk of repeating myself, we appear to be outperforming on a meaningful scale:

MC chart 6th July

Institutional investors such as private equity and asset management firms have been at the forefront of M&A activity as they look to diversify into new asset classes. Transactions such as Permira’s acquisition of Bestinvest and Bridgepoint’s purchase of Quilter & Co, highlight private equity’s growing interest in the sector during the last couple of years.

There are several reasons behind this uptick in this interest. Private equity buyers are attracted to wealth management firms because the majority are capital-light and cash-generative businesses. Once set up correctly a wealth management firm has a good operating leverage with profitability outpacing a rise in costs. This offers potential investors the opportunity to make a decent return on their capital as they will be looking to sell the businesses on within three years. What price continuity?


Increasingly, private equity firms are also filling the void left by some of the traditional players in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Many retail banks have opted to divest their non-core operations in recent years, creating a gap for new entrants to gain a foothold in the wealth management sector.


In the great days of the British Empire, a new commanding officer was sent to an African jungle outpost to relieve the retiring colonel. After welcoming his replacement and showing the usual courtesies (gin and tonic, cucumber sandwiches etc) which protocol decrees, the retiring colonel said, “You must meet my Adjutant, Captain Smithers, He’s my right-hand man and is really the strength of this office. His talent is simply boundless.”

Smithers was summoned and introduced to the new CO, who was surprised to meet a hunchback, one eyed, toothless, hairless, scabbed and pockmarked specimen of humanity; a particularly unattractive man less than three feet tall. “Smithers, old man, tell your new CO about yourself.” ”Well, sir, I graduated with the Sword of Honour from Sandhurst, joined the regiment and won the Military Cross and Bar after three expeditions behind enemy lines. I’ve represented Great Britain in equestrian events and won a Silver Medal in the horse riding part of the Olympics. I have researched the history of…..”

At that point, the colonel interrupted, “Yes, yes, never mind that Smithers, he can find all that in your file. Tell him about the day you told the witch doctor to sod off.”


 

David Cowell

Director

For and on behalf of Myddleton Croft Investment Managers

1 Woodside Mews

Clayton Wood Close

Leeds

LS16 6QE

Tel:        0113 274 7700

Fax:       0113 274 7711

www.myddletoncroft.co.uk

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