Our man packs his Louis Vuittons for his favourite gossip-fest, the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous
Mark my words
Well hello, and welcome to Monte Carlo. Another year, another Rendez-Vous. I’ve got so many happy, if woozy, memories of September days idled away in a résidence privée in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, while everyone else rushes around getting their feet trampled in the crush at the Café de Paris. And it just wouldn’t be Monte without some scurrilous rumours doing the rounds as though they’re gospel, would it? So what will this year’s be? Well, how about this for starters: a merger of our pals over at the rating agencies, to provide one über agency? Now that would be a triple-A story.
Have I ever told you you’re my hero?
Regular readers will know how fond I am of the Sage of Omaha, so it filled my heart with gladness to see Berkshire Hathaway continue its triumphant storming of the market. An extra $66m on earnings in the first quarter of 2010 and $268m in the first half, eh? I’ve read the biography and everything, but I still can’t figure out just how Warren Buffett manages to get it right every time. Answers on a postcard, please.
Sick as a parrot
Turns out I’m not the only Buffett fan around here. I was speaking to a buyer the other day who practically idolises the bloke, and confessed to nicking his quotes at every opportunity. Presumably not the one where he’s defending rating agencies though. Even I couldn’t stomach that one.
Lording it over us
Good lord. That Lord Levene chap doesn’t waste much time, does he? Only a month after it emerged he was setting up a company to buy government-controlled bank assets, he’s landed another high-profile job at his old stomping ground, the Ministry of Defence, chairing its reform panel.
There does seem to be a pattern emerging with these ventures. For banking, he’s teamed up with fellow City big hitter Sir David Walker and at the MoD he’ll be supported by Baroness Sheila Noakes. Perhaps all those years of dealing with Lloyd’s riff-raff have made him crave more noble company.
Sniff ’em out
Speaking of Lloyd’s, the place has never been the same since it had a franchise performance director stalking the halls like a headmaster trying to catch unruly schoolkids doing a bunk. Nothing against Tom Bolt and his predecessor Rolf Tolle of course – top blokes the pair of them, if a bit serious for me – but I’m not really sure why they are needed in the first place. Everyone knows that the fastest way to find a bad underwriter is to look for the longest queue of brokers. We can smell ’em a mile off.
Rage against the machine
One thing that really worries me about Lloyd’s these days is all this talk of technology. Now, as many of you know, the top bods there have been banging on about streamlining this and that for years, but we’ve always managed to duck it. It looks more serious this time, though, which could mean an end to lunchtime sessions down the Lamb. Where will I get my gossip then?
From Munich with love
Being the well-connected, jet-setting type that I am, I’ve seen my fair share of fancy offices. Those big reinsurers certainly aren’t shy of splashing the cash on their headquarters. Munich Re’s gaff, however, takes the cake. It’s straight out of a Bond film – all waterfalls, indoor rivers and underground passages. I can’t help wondering if Nikolaus von Bomhard has got a white cat. GR