Friday, 28 September 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap Up: Brush up on your British History

Following in the footsteps of his old Eton and Bullingdon Club pal, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister appeared on the David Letterman Show in the United States. Whilst Boris got off lightly with a few light hearted comments in regard to his immaculately scruffy hair do, the leader of the Coalition government suffered a more gruelling evening on the famous couch by being tested on British history.

The Metro published the 20 questions today for the British public to compare their knowledge to the PM’s; have a go below:

1. In what year did the Roman occupation of Britain begin?
2. Alfred the Great was ruler of which kingdom?
3. In what year was the Battle of Agincourt?
4. The Charge of the Light Brigade took place during which conflict?
5. In which year were women in Britain first granted the right to vote in parliamentary elections?
6. Who was Britain’s longest serving monarch?
7. Which king did the Gunpowder plotters hope to assassinate?
8. Wat Tyler was one of the leaders of which uprising?
9. In which present-day country is Waterloo (scene of the famous battle) located?
10. Who was Britain’s prime minister at the start of the Second World War?
11. Where was Thomas Becket killed?
12. Who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe?
13. When was the battle of Bosworth?
14. Who was Henry VIII’s first wife?
15. Who was the last Tudor monarch of England?
16. In which year was Charles I executed?
17. How many 18th Century British monarchs were named George?
18. When did 13 of Britain’s American colonies declare themselves independent?
19. In what year was the Great Exhibition?
20. When was the National Health Service introduced?


  • Diageo look towards the emerging markets once again, with rumours of them looking to buying a stake in India’s United Spirits
  • Libor faces complete reform as Martin Wheatley submits his proposals. Overhaul recommendations include criminal prosecutions for manipulators and a requirement to provide relevant trade data to prove rates

  • At the Lib Dem conference, Nick Clegg challenges public spending suggesting it is threatening to undermine the country’s economic prosperity. He is also fighting Tories once again for the addition of a ‘Mansion Tax’

  • Vince Cable announces £1bn backing for a British business bank to help small- and medium-sized enterprises

  • Stockwatch: FTSE 100: The protests in Greek and Spain drove Britain’s top stock index to its biggest one-day fall in over two months, closing on Wednesday at three-week low amid the Spanish and Greek protests

  • Stockwatch: Shanks Group, the waste management group, saw share pries plunge 17pc after profit warning announcement. However, the emphasis on the robust nature of their other business units, the Telegraph’s Questor still says buy for medium-term growth

  • Ahead of our upcoming China trips, Bozzy attended the CBBC’s China Association Autumn lunch, with guest speaker Lord Patten, who spoke on the topic of A New World Balance

  • The Cleantech team attended Green in the City’s “Expert Forum on Challenges facing UK independent renewable generators” evening and Cleantech Investor’s “Investing in Fuel Cells, the resurgence” conference, where our client Acta presented

  • Our Life Sciences ladies went to Biotech Babes’ Californian wine tasting evening, hosted by Covington and Burling and supporting Dress for Success

  • Other events Abchaps attended great events this week include Bloomberg’s “Financing the Mining Industry in Challenging Times” evening and Gresham PE’s cocktail party

  • We also hosted two excellent Market Lunches this week, with one focused on Natural Resources

  • Graduate Abchaps attended two days of excellent PR training with the team at FinanceTalking - now expert with results statements, annual reports and company valuation!

Few of our City contacts have been moving around this week although Deloitte has appointed David Hodgson a healthcare and life sciences partner in its enterprise risk division. In a similar vein (sorry!) we were pleased to see speciality pharmaceutical company Clinigen make the move to AIM this week, brought to the market by Numis’ healthcare team.

Again in honour of Marte who is here on secondment from our Norwegian IPREX partner, Consilio…. “Selskap” = company

Beer up at London Oktoberfest which is on all weekend @ Kennington Park.
Watch the outdoor screening of West Side Story tonight for free at the Scoop – your last chance of the year!

This weekend is your last chance to catch the free Wild Planet exhibition at the Natural History Museum

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lib Dems looking to split RBS

Following last month’s reports that the Government was considering buying the outstanding 17 per cent of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), The Liberal Democrats have now backed proposals to break RBS up into a series of local and community banks. The Sustainable Jobs and Policy paper was passed in a vote at the Lib Dem party conference in Brighton on Tuesday. Instigated earlier this year by Business Secretary Vince Cable, the policy motion was proposed by Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, MP Duncan Hames.
Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoman Baroness Susan Kramer called on the Treasury to consider breaking up both state-owned and privately-owned banks. She said: “We have one or two albatrosses. The notion that we were going to sell off the banks for a substantial profit very quickly has long gone out of the window. Is there a more constructive way to use them? I don’t know enough to say breaking them up is the answer but I feel strongly that the Treasury should be looking very, very closely at the option.”
The policy motion also supports other initiatives, ensuring improved access to credit, relaxed capital rules for start-up businesses and a statutory responsibility to encourage banking diversity.
The only question one might ask is; are the Lib Dems being revolutionary or is this something we already knew?

Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Five Minute Abchat: John Peat, Seymour Pierce

John Peat
John Peat, Director of Equity Sales at Seymour Pierce and long-time friend and business associate of Abchurch, takes a few minutes for a five minute Abchat and explains what it takes to be a great salesman.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Either the Army or farming, but ended up reading Law at Oxford, so there you go.

How did you get in to Equity Sales?
I was working in the Trust Department of Withers Solicitors, and had to raise some money from a Trust. I rang up the broker, who said his assistant had just left, I suggested myself, we had lunch, I was offered the job and the rest is history.

Describe your role in 20 words or less.
Trying to add value and attempting to get my clients, institutional investors, to buy or sell stocks on my humble advice.

If I wasn't talking to you now, what would you be doing?
Depends on the time of day! Speaking to clients, in meetings, talking to colleagues or possibly, if I am lucky, lunching.

What is the most interesting thing about your work?
Every day is different and a challenge. Whatever anybody says, there is always something going on. Who couldn't love a job which is affected by politics, economics, weather, you name it. Also you end up making some very good friends, whose friendships last longer than your career.

Is there a common misconception about Sales?
Probably, and usually from a position of ignorance. Any salesman realises that irresponsible advice will eventually find them out, and it is much better to work from the basis that your client's success is ultimately your success.

How has the industry changed over the past couple of years?
Having been in this industry for over 33 years, I would find that an easier question to answer. The last couple of years have been particularly tough compared to those glorious years prior to the credit crunch. These last years have been a huge challenge, and have really tested one's confidence, ability and optimism, though we must always, in our job, imagine that better times are just around the corner.

What do you expect to see in the City within the next twelve months?
Unless we see a dramatic pick up in volumes and politicians both domestically and internationally taking positive action, I can see further pain and further mergers between broking firms, and in some cases firms throwing in the towel. Always remember in our industry where you have a merger between two broking firms, one and one makes one.

Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Is social media an appropriate tool for corporate communication?

The CIPR’s event "Is social media an appropriate tool for corporate communication?" hosted by law firm TLT LLP, started off with a great breakfast spread and light socialising before diving into the world of online communications. The panel included Drew Benvie (CEO UK of Hotwire), Nick Masters (Head of Online, PwC), Ian Burge (External Communications Manager, Standard Charter) and Graham Shaw (Partner, TLT LLP).

Drew Benvie stressed the fundamentals of social media in a corporate context are Influencers, Insight and Innovation, the "three I's". Ian Burge further explained that constant, consistent and open engagement is a vital element of a corporate social media strategy. But how do you actually successfully practice what you preach?

The Budget is always a big date in the corporate calendar because of its impact on Tax, and Nick Masters of PwC explained how they ran live coverage through a variety of their digital channels in order to provide real-time commentary and opinions about the implications. PwC made excellent use of social media to engage with its stakeholders at this important time. Proving to be highly effective with increased media coverage, Nick Masters even experienced a significant decrease in journalist calls as they were offered information through online platforms.

Some interesting legal matters were also raised, including the implementation of social media use policies: when does an employee have a right to privacy and what counts as communicating in a public forum? Where social media is concerned, and with complicated privacy settings on many social sites, the lines can be very blurry. Graham Shaw, an employment law specialist, said that in order to minimise the risk of reputational damage and breaches of confidentiality, an organisational social media policy needs to be established, preferably with input from the PRs and those who will be implementing the social strategy. 

The concluding message from the board of speakers was “don’t be scared of social media” – there is a lot of unchartered water so you won’t always know what the outcome will be, but it will usually be good. While the panellists accepted that some companies prefer to be private with their affairs, they maintained that listening is an integral part of a social strategy, giving companies an awareness of what is being said about them online. If you don’t try using social media as part of your communications strategy, you will never experience the potential results.


Follow us on Twitter

Friday, 21 September 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap Up: Charisma Counts

The recent murmurings from some segments of the press coupled with Boris Johnson’s vehement denial that he plans to return to the House of Commons to amount a leadership challenge to Old Bullingdon Club pal David Cameron, begs the question if Max Webber’s third and arguably most controversial influence on authority (Theory of Power) is once again prevalent in the UK:  
  • Charismatic authority - is based on the charisma of a public figure, who demonstrates the possession of the right to lead by virtue of magical powers, prophecies, heroism, and the like. Their followers respect their right to lead because of thier unique qualities (charisma), not because of any tradition or legal rules.

1.   Apple iPhone 5 launch is tarnished once with more technical errors as the new Maps App is plagued with inaccuracies and misplaced towns

2.   Inflation eases to 2.5% in August, in spite of rising petrol prices as retailers slash clothing prices in a bid to tempt the shoppers

3.   MD Medical Group, one of Russia’s private health providers, looks to the London Stock Exchange for an Initial Public Offering with the intention to raise $150 millon

4. Banker’s bonuses hit the headlines as figures released show workers in the finance sector take home more than one-third of Britain’s bonus pot whilst only making up 4% of the workforce

5.  Stockwatch: Apple – shares break the $700 barrier this week for the first time as the iPhone 5 pre-order sales smash previous sales record.  

·        We hosted three excellent Market Lunches this week, including two sector focused ones on Resources and Life Sciences, with many compliments to the Abchef!
·        Abchaps were out in force at the CIPR Breakfast Seminar to discuss whether social media has any place in corporate communications (yes it does!)

·        Jo took guests from Cavendish, Canaccord Genuity and Pinsent Mason to watch Chelsea draw 2-2 with Juventus at Stamford Bridge

·        We welcomed WG Partners to our offices for a meet and greet with the teams

·        Abchaps attended great conferences this week including AdTech London, Exploring the Opportunities in China and Thought Leadership Quarterly’s launch

  • Nicola Marrin has joined Panmure Gordon as a Director of Corporate Finance
  • Peter O’Malley has been appointed CEO of Canaccord Genuity

  • Altium has brought in Aksana Pekun to head the technology department in London
  • Susan Harwood has become a partner at Stephenson Harwood, specialising in restructuring

  • In honour of Marte, here on secondment from our Norwegian IPREX partner Consilio, ….“Aksje” = a share/ stock, pronounced “Okshah”

    See some classic films under the stars at Kensington Roof Gardens, where Funny Face and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are screening on Monday 24th September

    Somerset House hosts London Fashion Weekend featuring designer shopping and the catwalk experience

    Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

    Wednesday, 19 September 2012

    Hong Kong – the hub in China for biotech and cleantech

    At least, this was the argument put forward by a delegation from the Hong Kong Science Park (HKSP), and Hong Kong Government, at a seminar in Magdalene College, Cambridge on 18 September. Briefing an audience of cleantech and life science businesses and advisors, the delegation presented the undoubtedly impressive research facilities at HKSP, and were shown the plans of the new Phase 3 development – which aims to be a carbon neutral research facility, pushing the park’s credibility in clean technologies. With a favourable tax system (15% is the highest band), UK legal system, supportive government (in terms of soft money), investor infrastructure, excellent transport communications, and direct channel into China, the delegation made a strong case for Hong Kong as the first port of call for businesses wishing to establish a presence in the region.

    As a member of the audience, I have little doubt that start-up tech companies would be made to feel very welcome in Hong Kong, and would get all the support that a young business could want for. However, without peers of success, the transition from start-up to SME and beyond is largely unchartered. So, for those tempted, you’ll not only need your entrepreneurial spirit, but your pioneering boots.

    Adam Michael

    Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

    Friday, 14 September 2012

    Abchat Weekly Wrap Up: Let the Prowess Continue

    Let the Prowess Continue: Post Olympics 2012 Watching 95% of Mo Farah’s victory in the 10,000m men’s final was not a pleasant experience. The nerves were in full flow and the adrenaline was thumping through my veins as I watched an extremely tense affair on TV. Coupled with this was a doubt in my mind that Mo was definitely going to lose. He didn’t!! Nor did Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Nicola Adams, Jonnie Peacock, David Weir or Sarah Storey - just to name a few…What was going on? These sportsmen are British yet they were cleaning up…

    It then dawned on me; Eureka!!! These athletes are not England football players! I had been so use to the constant let downs dished out by the Three Lions I just assumed this was the way all Brits conduct themselves on a sporting field with the world watching… How wrong was I?
    Granted, most Olympic sports are not as competitive as football and we follow football week in week out; however these should not be reasons for the British public to turn their backs on our Olympic heroes once Olympic fever has died down. Our athletes will need our support more than ever to continue this excellent form into Rio 2016; and I can safely say without a shadow of a doubt, that Rio 2016 should and will be a far more profitable tour than Rio 2014 for British sport.

    1. After days of speculation, RBS finally announce the formal intention to float for its Direct Line Insurance arm.
    2. In the tech world, Apple unveiled the much anticipated iPhone 5, but left many analysts disappointed as it lacked that “one more thing”.
    3. Rumours of a £30.4bn BAE Systems and EADS merger are rife, but face investor scepticism as to whether they can overcome political obstacles.
    4. UBS whistleblower, Bradley Birkenfeld, received a $104m reward for exposing tax avoidance schemes the Company used with clients.
    5. Stockwatch: Facebook - shares finally saw a boost as investors heard some calming words as CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first public speech since its disastrous IPO. 

    Abchaps attended the CIPR Speaker Lunch with Anthony Hilton, Financial Editor of the Evening Standard. As always, Chatham House Rules mean we have to keep the discussion under wraps but suffice to say he was enlightening, educational and extremely entertaining. PRs need to pitch very carefully to avoid being one of the 400 or so emails that end up in his Deleted Items every day…

    Abchurch hosted two sector specific Market Lunches this week, focusing on Cleantech with guests from KPMG, HSBC, Turquoise, Daniel Stewart and Climate Change Capital; and our debut Digital Media event, attended by Shore Capital, Charles Stanley, Jeffreys Henry, ComRes and Farrer & Co.

    Mitchell and Butler have poached Alistair Darby from Marston’s to fill the CEO position while Glencore has upped its bid for Xstrata this week. BAE also announced a potential tie up with EADS which City AM claimed could make it the largest defense company on the PLANET!

    Bear Hug: An approach to a company by another company indicating that an offer is about to be made for their shares. A teddy bear hug is when the target company indicates that is not against the merger, but wants a higher price.

    London Design Festival, on for another week, sees creative events hosted all over London – browse the itinerary here:

    The special Jubilee annual Great River Race starts at 10.40 @ Millwall Dock Slipway, London Docklands, finishes around 13.30 @ Riverside Below Ham House, Richmond

    London Fashion Week is underway, check out the rest of the schedule here:

    Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

    Monday, 10 September 2012

    Market Scuttlebut at our Northern Clay Day

    Ripley Castle

    08:00, 7 September: Ripley Castle, Harrogate, North Yorkshire (for anyone who lives south of the Watford Gap), Abchaps start to congregate for our annual Northern region clay shoot with a selection of our Northern advisers and other intermediaries. It’s a crisp but clear morning; not a hint of smog, which throws me off guard – the London air reminds me I’m in a big city but this is the great outdoors and we are going to be shooting lots of guns to show just how country we can get.

    As the teams start to take shape, guests from all walks of city life are represented: lawyers, accountants, brokers gather for breakfast in the foyer of the castle and general market scuttlebutt ensues. Tales of a mixed summer of market activity, the Olympics and ones own shootings skills seem to be high on most agendas. There is also a lot of talk of taking inspiration from Peter Wilson, the team GB double trap shooting gold medal winner. When Lord Coe talked about inspiring a generation, I’m not quite sure this was the generation he had in mind.
    The teams are assembled with each of the five Abchurch members captaining a side and, following a brief safety word from Barrie the games-keeper, battle lines are drawn: we reach for our guns. There are five traps on offer, pheasant, teal, grouse, partridge and the devilishly difficult rabbit. The competition is simple: the team with the most targets hit by the end of the day takes home the glory, bragging rights for a year, and a rather large bottle of champagne. There would also be a prize for the day’s Top Gun so plenty to play for and it showed. Gun shots ring out as clay disks are turned into puffs of smoke with increasing accuracy as the morning unfolds.

    By lunchtime and with the sun shinning bright it is time to retire to the castle for lunch, shoulders are already starting to get bruised but the chatter is still rife. The North of England plays an important part of the Abchurch business mix and it shows; with plenty of talk of upcoming deals and recent market activity it’s easy to see why this area still contributes a sizable amount of the Country’s economic drive out of recession.

    Clay pigeon shooting at Ripley Castle
    The afternoon’s shooting becomes more and more tense as scores are slowly added up and team positions are roughly worked out with only a few traps left to shoot – every shot becomes vital. The teams finish the day shooting a flurry of clays together before retiring once more to the castle for drinks and to await the results from Barrie.

    It’s a tense finish with only a couple of shoots separating the top teams, but it is Topper’s team that take the victory from mine by a single shot (not sure who did the maths?!) and Sean Wyndham-Quin from Spark Advisory Partners was crowned Top Gun.  There are smiles all round as prizes are handed out and the teams mingle on the balcony of the castle overlooking the lake on what was a highly successful day of both shooting and networking. 


    Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms