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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A right Horlicks of an investment portfolio

Anglo Persian business interests have not hit the head lines since David Mills became entangled with Iranian business interests, but Nicola Horlick's entanglement with Vincent Tchenguiz looks to be making some waves.

Horlick started out at Warburgs/MAM moving to Morgan Grenfell and was one of a number of high ego / low talent individuals who fell foul of the Deutsche management after the takeover when she was suspended for trying to take a team with her to another organisation. She left to form another fund at SG Asset Management, but after 6 years there she left to set up her own fund, Bramdean Alternatives.

One might have naively imagined that an investment manager with such a high profile in the national press would have garnered a substantial amount of funds. But it turns out that Ms Horlick's reputation is in the cloour supplements and the women's pages, not the financial pages, and one of the few investors she could hustle was the media courting Mr. Tchenguiz (check out the press cuttings in the reception at 35 Park Lane for the evidence of that).

Mr Tchenguiz had recently moved from a town house in Upper Grosvenor Street to an imposing 8 floor building on the Park Lane almost next door to the Hilton. Tchenguiz tried to fill the building with property companies and alternative and renewable technology incubators and was thinking about getting into und management, when along came Ms Horlick. Tchenguiz took a 28% stake in the company and installed them on the second floor of 35 Park Lane where they proceeded to manage there barely over £100 million pound portfolio at a loss.

In December last year Bramdean Alternatives let the world know that 9.5% of its assets were "invested" in two Madoff's funds, thus winning the Financial Crimes Crime of the Year award for lack of due diligence / investment appraisal / call it what you will. Horlick complained of being singled out by the media because of her gender, when in fact it was because she had always courted the media and has indeed set up a wealth management company exclusively for women.

Anyway, back to Bramdean (actually a small village in Jane Austen country in Hampshire): Mr Tchenguiz wants to replace the board as the first step towards realising the value of the investments in Bramdean Alternatives. Board members include a former chief executive of Allied Irish Banks, a former bigwig at Robert Fleming and the chairman and chief executive of Winchester Capital, a company I have never heard of but hopefully nothing to do with Winchester Commodities, who one might remember being involved in some wheeling and dealing in copper with Sumitomo, which lead to the Japanese trading house booking a $2 billion loss in the 1990's. Winchester after all is where Jane Austen died and was buried.

But the Hampshire connections do not stop there, because one of the largest investors in the Bramdean fund, holding 19%, is the pension fund of Hampshire County Council, whose affections Mr Tchenguiz is likely to have to woo if he is to be successful.

One can only look forward to the new Anglo-Iranian Mr Darcy's courtship of Hampshire County Council Pension Fund's Lizzie Bennett.

1 comment:

Savonarola said...

Ahhhh Winchester Commodities - Copper Fingers Vincent. Alexander Jones. Bucketloads of commissions. Monte Carlo.