And finally…

Last orders?

London’s private fund managers received a shock in May. The Only Running Footman, a historic pub much loved by private fund folk for its combination of decent food, drink and atmosphere, closed.

Just on the corner of Mayfair’s Berkeley Square – London’s private equity central – the pub provided a relaxed alternative to the area’s many private clubs. And it was popular; on a sunny afternoon one could barely push through the crowds of hedgies to get to the bar.

The pub was originally named ‘I Am The Only Running Footman’ after it was bought by one in the 17th Century. Footmen served the swish households of Mayfair during this time and were known to run ahead of their master’s coach paying any tolls and clearing a safe passage.
While the clintele may now be grander, it’s just as loyal. So what gives? Why close an institution with a solid customer base?

Well, Mayfair workers can breathe a sigh of relief. The pub will return; it will open under new management with a streamlined name: The Footman.

But what to do in the meantime? Well, the pub’s previous owners, The Meredith Group, would like to send thirsty customers 20 minutes’ walk north to their other upmarket establishment, The Portman, in fashionable Marylebone. If a 20 minute stroll does not appeal, then pfm will see you in the Coach and Horses up the road from the Footman. Cheers!

Intelligent training solutions

Fresh off the back of pfm’s coverage that private equity firms are hiring former spies and military personnel, asset managers are reportedly using former CIA agents to coach fund managers in the art of interrogation.

The Financial Times reports that UK-listed fund house Jupiter Asset Management has hired former employees of the US intelligence agency as consultants to give its portfolio managers an edge over their rivals.

Ex-CIA agents are being hired to teach fund managers interrogation tactics, such as being able to read the body language of employees within the companies that they intend to invest in to determine whether they are lying or feeling uncomfortable.

Alongside learning behavioural assessment techniques, the group of 40 employees were asked to watch a video of a basketball game and count the number of passes made by one team. Only one team member spotted a large yeti walk across the court during the video. This exercise was to demonstrate that focusing too much on one problem can obscure other immediate threats or issues.

pfm wonders about the applications for private equity: might fundraising firms find themselves strapped to a lie detector while an LP probes them on the source of their outperformance? Possibly not…