Cameron Surprises, Deutsche Stays Confused: City of London Notes

The UK election is over, and The City is relieved.

Can I still be a non-dom? How much bank tax will my firm pay? Is my carried interest being turned into income? Friday morning’s shock Conservative majority made the election angst fade away, prompting jubilation amongst London’s financiers.

With David Cameron staying in charge, defeating Labour's bonus-taxing Ed Miliband and sidelining the Tories’ Liberal Democrat coalition partners, bankers’ wallets will be a little safer.

There were business class cheers when news spread of Ed Balls, photographed here in February, losing his parliamentary seat in the U.K. election.
There were business class cheers when news spread of Ed Balls, photographed here in February, losing his parliamentary seat in the U.K. election.
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

One dealmaker tells us that when his early-morning British Airways flight to Amsterdam landed, a cheer erupted as the business class section switched on their smartphones to discover a majority government was near. Another passenger whooped “Ed Balls is gone” to more cheering.

Referendum Fundraising

Election-time fundraising disclosures showed one London tycoon was looking ahead to the referendum on EU membership that Cameron has pledged, probably in 2017.

David Harding, the founder of the $30 billion hedge-fund manager Winton Capital, pledged 50,000 pounds ($77,380) to British Influence, a cross-party lobby group seeking to keep Britain in a reformed European Union, according to data made public by the U.K.’s Electoral Commission.

The group is headed by Labour Lord Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair’s former right-hand man; the outgoing coalition government’s deputy finance minister, Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander, who just lost his seat to Scottish separatists; and Ken Clarke, Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1990s.

Staying or Going 

Outgoing Standard Chartered Plc Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands is an Arsenal fan.
Outgoing Standard Chartered Plc Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands is an Arsenal fan.
Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Back in Britain’s bank boardrooms, Standard Chartered’s ambiguously worded motto -- “here for good” -- looked a little out of place prominently emblazoned on presentation slides at the annual meeting.

Chairman John Peace stood up in front of that tagline to tell shareholders the board is seriously considering ditching the U.K. as taxes rise and regulations tighten.

(The AGM was held before the election, and some analysts now speculate Cameron will now be able to cut a deal to make sure Standard Chartered -- and HSBC -- don’t actually leave.)

We learned that some compliance officers are now making more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) a year at Standard Chartered. And one shareholder had a pointed farewell message for departing CEO Peter Sands.

He hoped the North Londoner gets more time to watch his favorite soccer team, Arsenal, win a treble of trophies next year, while new leader Bill Winters triples StanChart’s share price. (In England, the “treble” means topping the Premier League, winning the separate FA Cup tournament and beating the rest of Europe’s best teams in the Champions League.)

Anshu Rally

While the uncertainty over the election outcome was stressful for some, the suspense isn’t over for the dealmakers at Deutsche Bank.

Investment bank staff are still in the dark about where job cuts will fall after the bank announced a strategy review on April 27th. People inside Deutsche Bank say they're still none the wiser, some two weeks later. According to one theory, the bank is treading carefully due to the legal niceties required in dealing with German unions.

Co-commander-in-chief Anshu Jain took the stage in London with head of markets Colin Fan on April 30 to rally the troops at a “town hall meeting,” according to people who were in the room. 

“Anshu, do you care -- do you care about the investment bank?” Fan exclaimed.

To this, Jain replied: “Look, I wear with pride my origins in this industry,” according to a transcript of the meeting. He emphasized how “proud” he was to be an investment banker, and said the division was the “spine” of the bank.

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