Saturday 24 March 2018

The Punt: Allanah Weston on the move

Kweku Adoboli is currently battling deportation from the UK
Kweku Adoboli is currently battling deportation from the UK

Allanah Weston - the daughter of the retail billionaire Galen Weston and Irishwoman Hilary Frayne - has moved house, the Punt sees. The 43-year-old is the creative director at Selfridges, which is owned by the family, which also owns Brown Thomas and controls Associated British Foods, the owner of Primark.

New filings at the Companies Office show that Weston swapped a very fancy house on Mallord Street in Chelsea, west London, for another plush pad in Earls Court Square less than 2km away.

The filing says the move only happened last year.

The house on Mallord Street had been sold in 2009 for just under £5.5m (€7.6m). The house has a bit of history - it is a former home of legendary British singer, actor and comedian Gracie Fields.

But Weston and her husband Alex Cochrane - the architect she married in 2007 - have been ensconced in Earls Court Square for some time, it's believed. The house was bought under Cochrane's name in 2011 for £6m, according to records at the Land Registry in the UK.

Weston - a former arts journalist - says that working hard is part of her DNA.

"It's in my blood," she said in an interview a few years ago. "I have always been raised to work. My family always assumed we would work. Not necessarily in the business but at something.

"There's no way that I could be idle."

Rogue trader to game keeper

Say the name Kweku Adoboli to most people in the financial markets and, depending on what their job is, they will probably react with either a shudder or a roll of the eyes and a knowing glance.

Mr Adoboli earned notoriety back in 2012 when it was revealed he had managed to lose over $4bn as a synthetic equities trader at UBS.

Mr Adoboli was painted as a gambler who hid his losses, and he ended up in jail.

Now back on the outside, he is battling deportation from the UK and at the weekend gave a fascinating interview to the 'Financial Times'.

Perhaps what stood out to the Punt was the image of him speaking at a compliance seminar in the City. In effect, Mr Adoboli was telling a room full of traders, "don't end up like me".

Banks could do with more of this kind of educating. For hard-pressed traders, we reckon that a wise word or two from a fellow dealer will have a much bigger effect than a letter from compliance.

The (almost) $400m screw-up

On the subject of trading and unexpected losses, a fascinating story is emerging out of Citibank in New York and the near loss of nearly $400m.

The problem came about when a Citi client ran a number of trades that did not settle in their entirety for several weeks. As a result, Citi extended credit to the client - London hedge fund LNG Capital - far in excess of what was normally allowed.

When Citi demanded LNG pay back the $400m imediately, LNG could not do it for several months. Ultimately all the money was repaid, and Citi did not suffer any loss as a result of the mishap.

The incident, while relatively minor, demonstrates that 20 years after Nick Leeson brought down Barings Bank, and years after the financial crisis, risk controls still seem to be sorely lacking across the banking sector.

Among other recent examples of glaring failures at the banks, Deutsche Bank accidentally transferred $6bn to a hedge fund client in a so-called "fat finger" mistake. Deutsche got all the money back in that case.

It seems that no matter what we keep hearing about how the banks have changed their ways for the better, the problems of past years are still very much there.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business