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A Shaw thing

Sam Shaw is a reporter on Money Marketing

The joys of having taken Monday off as leave soon became a distant memory as I walk in on press day to land straight in the middle of the Friends Provident/Resolution merger talks.

Having spent much of Tuesday discussing the “what might happen” with many an IFA to gauge their reactions, details of the terms of the deal were less than welcome as they were released first thing Wednesday morning, 12 hours too late for our press deadline.

A long-awaited meeting with the pleasant and very knowledgeable Jim Smith from Royal London preceded a lunch with the lovely Jon French from the ABI at Incognico, discovering he is not only a keen cricketer and has as much a penchant for a “lovely and dry” glass of white as I do.

Thursday night, my fabulous colleague, politics and regulation guru Paul ‘shake that ass’ McMillan, myself and other industry peers spent disco-ing away to the camp-tastic Scissor Sisters, courtesy of Financial Technology Research Centre. Ta-Dah.

Pointless reprimands by jobsworth bouncers: one (but I was not alone). Unwelcome advances by American frat boys: several, all from the same (way too persistent) guy.

Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalist

To Portcullis House for a reception hosted by Adrian Bailey, chairman of the Building Societies and Financial Mutuals All Party Parliamentary Group, sponsored by Mutuo, the campaigner for co-operatives. The fest was being held to acknowledge the work of MP Sir John Butterfill, who has long been a champion of mutuals and is now piloting a private members’ bill through Parliament to allow different types of mutuals to merge without demutualising.

Sir John was in fine fettle, regaling the assembled company with his triumphs on behalf of the mutual movement and recounting how his Bournemouth constituency was now one of the leading financial centres in the country. One of his greatest triumphs, he recalled, was to persuade the honchos at strictly proprietary Chase Manhattan (now JP Morgan Chase) to operate out of Bournemouth back in the 1980s. Not wanting to do things by halves, the New Yorkers refused to contemplate a run-of-the-mill office building and insisted on buying Littledown House, a local stately home then owned by the council.

In excellent spirits was the FSA’s Jeremy Palmer, manager of the regulator’s banks and building societies division. He confided that, when announcing bad tidings to colleagues, his macabre catchphrase tends to be: “Don’t go into the bathroom alone.” Building society watchers will recall this was the text of the suicide note left by the infamous Harold Jaggard, 79-year-old chairman and secretary of the Grays Building Society and master embezzler, who was found dead in the bath on the morning of Friday March 17, 1978.

MPs, top brass and PRs of mutuals present: quite a few; members of Her Majesty’s press present: just me, as far as I could tell.

Esther Shaw is deputy personal finance editor at the Independent on Sunday

The week kicked off in style at The Ivy in the company of Churchill’s lovely ladies, Frances Browning and Abi Clark along with my right-hand man, James Daley.

Certain members of the group were keen to do a little sleb-spotting and dear Abi got rather excited when she spied Alan Carr (Of The Friday Night Project-fame) dining with Cleo Roccos (Kenny Everett’s sidekick) over her fish and chips. But dear James soon trumped that with the announcement that he had been peeing next to John Hannah in the Gents.

On to Wednesday and it was time to join the likely lads from Aegon in the ballroom at Claridge’s for the Rugby World Champions Charity Luncheon and Auction. Sad to say that as we were bidding against some rather flush lawyers, we came away with little more than a few pens and a rugby ball. Which we proceeded to play with in the Running Horse pub. Which rather predictably Adrian Cammidge sent clattering into the table beside us, knocking an array of drinks asunder – somewhat setting the tone for the afternoon.

Kevin Brown, meanwhile, was rather stitched up in the name game and had bailed completely by about 10pm. Lightweight.

Number of pink shirts worn by the Aegon press team: four. It’s the away day uniform, I understand. Number of times Money Marketing’s very own Will has had his finger bitten by a pyrhana: once. He is no longer vegetarian as a result.


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