Imagine if Tim Geithner had cut the ribbon at Goldman Sachs’ new headquarters.
That’s basically what just happened in the UK, where George Osborne, the Chancellor (his equivalent in the US is the Treasury Secretary) opened Man Group’s new offices in the Lower Thames Street area in London.
Three months ago, he opened Nomura’s offices in the same neighbourhood. And he had a great time doing it.
According to CITYAM, he was joking about becoming a regular in the City (the UK equivalent of Wall Street).
“I’m making quite a habit of this,” said Osborne.
“When I did this at Nomura, the whole thing almost fell down.” Both buildings are renowned for their panoramic roof terraces but, says Osborne, Man’s has the edge. “You have a better view than Nomura, by the way,” he told the hedge fund’s staff. “When they look out to the river, all they can see is your building.”
He even looked up Man Group’s history and told everyone a great story:
[Man] started life as a barrel business under founder James Man back in 1783, when London was also in the throes of financial crisis, again under a Tory coalition government. “A young chancellor came in and saved the day,” noted Osborne smugly.
[Man] historically had the contract to supply all the Royal Navy sailors with their daily tot of rum. Until 1970, that is, when the Navy minister David Owen put a stop to the “fine naval tradition” – three years after the introduction of nuclear submarines. Apparently, the complexity of modern military machinery “outweighed the need for a settled stomach in choppy waters”.
Everyone in London is startlingly comfortable with all of this. In the U.S., where Geithner has no direct connection to Goldman or any other Wall Street and never has, the masses continue to — angrily — believe that he’s in bed with Wall Street.
What’s the difference? Maybe Osborne is showing his gratitude for the firm’s remaining in London despite the increasing taxes for banker’s bonuses.
CITYAM explains that his reason for attending the ceremony was, “to mark 228 years of continuous commitment to the City of London.”
“We look forward to being here for the next 228 years,” [Man Group’s chairman] told his guests. “Although we recognise there will have to be some management changes.”