An odd thing happened during the craziness of the boom. Back in 2002, a 20-something young private banker called Nandi Ahuja decided to throw a summer party called “Bulls In The China Shop.” It was a tough time for bankers, with the dot com bust resulting in mass layoffs and transforming the dealzone into a killzone.
But the bad years weren’t all the bad and they didn’t last long. And somehow Ahuja’s party became a fixture on the calendars of many European financial executives and bankers. It was the kind of place where you could run into a senior banker from Merrill, Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley and chat up the cute secretary from KKR. There was ample champagne flowing from crystal flutes.
You might think that this relic of the boom would go the way of the CDO Squared. But you’d be wrong. Last week the party was back, albeit with its name changed to “(Blushing) Bulls In The China Shop.”
Last week, more than 400 guests, ranging from senior bankers from Merrill, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley to the heads of European private equity firms to secretaries and mailroom staff, met surrounded by Lalique crystal vases and entertained by musicians from Ronnie Scott’s, London’s top jazz club. Some guests flew in from New York, Moscow, Greece and Belgrade, and at least a dozen arrived by private jet.
Mr. Ahuja, a 35-year old private banker who also works as an investment banker, organised his first party in 2002 to give support staff and senior managers a chance to bond outside the office environment. One of his favourite anecdotes from a previous party is the emotional encounter between Jacob A. Frenkel, the former chairman of Merrill Lynch International, and the courier employee who for years sorted his mail but never knew what he looked like.
Mr. Ahuja said he is happy he went ahead with this year’s party, because the atmosphere was as good as the years before. The only difference, he said, was that people drank more champagne than ever.
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