Friday 26 July 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: A hypocritical religious institution? Well I never!

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, this week decided to wage war by launching a stinging attack on the Chief Executive of Wonga, saying: “We’re trying compete [Wonga] out of existence." Only two days later it emerged that the Church of England invested £75,000 into the firm. Quite a PR failure!

Surely anyone advising the Archbishop, before making such remarks, would have conducted some basic due diligence revealing that the Church of England’s pension fund helped to bankroll the payday lender. The Church has been pouring millions into Accel Partners, a U.S. private equity group, which was a big investor in the launch of Wonga. This discovery instantly undermined the Archbishop’s high profile pledge to destroy the loan company by opening a network of parish churches to promote non-profit credit unions. It also seriously discredits the Church of England’s move last year to place payday lenders and pawnbrokers on a blacklist of unethical investments.

Lambeth Palace regards the investment in Accel Partners as a serious inconsistency with its policy of opposing high interest-rate lending. The Archbishop has asked the commissioners to scour the pension fund’s £5bn investment portfolio to check for any other inconsistencies. This action is a little too late.

The advice is clear and simple: before embarking on a media battle, conduct thorough research and due diligence!

This week Abchaps headed to the West End for a creds swap with the folks at Zeus Capital; joined the completion dinner for our client Telford Homes' successful £20m placing; and attended a private breakfast briefing with Israel's Minister of International Affairs, Strategy and Intelligence Yuval Steintiyzs discussing the huge economic opportunities in Israel, particularly within the technology sphere and the enormous commercial cooperation with the UK.

Smith & Williamson has appointed Juliet McDonald of Lionstrust Asset Management as its associate director for marketing, whilst Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP has snatched up David Rowe to become the new Finance Director, previously of PwC and Herring Baker Harris. It has been revealed that Baker Tilly could be the saving grace to RSM Tenon’s flailing operations. If the merger goes ahead, it would generate a combined firm which could take on the likes of mid-tier accounting houses such as Grant Thornton and BDO.

"APR": Annual Percentage Rate, i.e. interest rate on your loan for a whole year. The typical APR of a payday loan is 1737% APR...

To commemorate the 1st anniversary of the sensational Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is playing host to the Open East Festival (27 – 28 July). The 2-day celebrations will feature offerings from the Real Street Food Festival, a life-sized inflatable bouncy replica of Stone Henge, a floating cinema and an amazing line-up of live music and international acts. Big screens will also be in place televising the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games and IAAF Diamond League action which will see 30 Olympic medallists returning to compete.

For the sun worshippers, head over to Camden’s Roundhouse tomorrow to see its newly transformed terrace into an urban beach, with 150 tonnes of sand, deck chairs, beach beds, amusement arcade games and even a tiki-style cocktail bar!

For those still caught up in #RoyalBabyFever, Buckingham Palace is putting on a special exhibition to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. Unique displays of the State Roms, featuring bringing together dresses, uniforms and robes worn for the event, along with paintings, other works of art, and objects used on June 2 1953 are featured. The visitor route includes a 450-metre walk along the west side of the palace garden, which offers views of the garden, palace and nineteenth-century lake.

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