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Small earthquake in Chile

Something has been bothering me about the recent reports that John Duffield is to launch a new investment venture but I cannot put my finger on exactly what. Still, I have a column to write and a deadline to meet so we will just have to embark on this gentle voyage of discovery together.

I do not think I have a problem with the name Hyde Park Asset Management, although it does feel a lot more down to earth – literally, I suppose – than either Jupiter or New Star. We probably should not read too much into this absence of astronomical nomenclature but maybe there is something in it.

I was definitely irked by all the reports that felt they needed to inform us the new company took its name from its location – seriously, chaps, is there really any other possible explanation?

Still, neither of those points is the real irritant. What about how or, more precisely, where the story broke – on the personal finance and investment website Interactive Investor? Well played, the reporter, an alumnus of this very newspaper, for the scoop but – and I say this with the greatest respect to the site and its editor-in-chief, a former editor of this parish, no less – as a venue for such momentous news, it seems a little low-key.

I mean, Mr Duffield is no mug when it comes to PR and, of course, his sidekick John Jay, as a former journalist, knows his way around a newspaper.

As such, one might have expected something a shade more high-profile or at least better orchestrated than an 8am posting on a personal finance website that has since been parroted in dribs and drabs by the rest of the financial press. We are getting warmer, I sense, so could it be the way that the story – and, yes, obviously I am falling into the same trap – seems to have overshadowed the bigger, more important and, well, more newsworthy news of who and who is not going to be managing money or people at the new Henderson-New Star combo?

Credit where it’s due, that is now an impressive roster of names for one organisation – and a number of the names who, for whatever reason, are not part of the new gang are also pretty noteworthy. And yet, certainly in the national media, that story has been viewed as on a par with “New Star founder hires back old office, probably with a view to managing some family money”.

Yes, we are definitely on to something here. Whisper it quietly but could it possibly be that this story really does not matter? Well, I would not go that far – not because I do not suspect it to be the case but because I have not always been the best judge of what qualifies as a good investment story.

Yup, I have worked out what has been bothering me about all this. I. Don’t. Care.

Here we have the third part of the Duffield Trilogy – his Return of the Jedi, his Die Hard with a Vengeance, his, er, High School Musical III – and it has left me completely cold.

Don’t get me wrong. Over the years, I have watched Mr Duffield’s work with awe, sometimes from behind a cushion, occasionally using a lawyer for a human shield, and the country’s financial services industry has undeniably been a more interesting place for his being part of it.

This time, however, all the media attention is for past deeds in the retail sector.

Yet if, as everyone seems to believe, Mr Duffield’s future lies in running money for a family or two, starting with his own, then as far as you and I are concerned, Hyde Park Asset Manage- ment may as well be based on Jupiter – which I suppose just about counts as irony.

I have a suspicion that the man I once got away with calling Duff Vader, the dark lord of investment – no, obviously not to his face – would be quite happy if, unlikely as the prospect may sound, the last 10 days saw the final articles ever written about his fund management activities.

And I would be equally happy to play my small part in that.

Julian Marr is editorial director of marketing-hub.co.uk

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