Signia: Reshuffling its top ranks

Upheaval at wealth manager Signia Wealth continues. Founder Nathalie Dauriac-Stoebe resigned suddenly in December after a disagreement with John Caudwell, the billionaire founder of Phones 4U and majority owner of the company. Caudwell is an old friend and godfather to one of her children.

Now Signia has reshuffled its top ranks. Out with Chris Godding, chief investment officer, and Gautam Batra, investment strategist. Three of the former Signia team who left last year to set up on their own — Carnegie Smyth, Etienne de Merlis and Greg Malone — have returned.

Meanwhile Dauriac-Stoebe, whose family owns vineyards in Bordeaux and South Africa, is likely to use her extensive address book to help her to return to the market. Friends of the well-connected Frenchwoman say she is aiming to put together a new venture, once she is legally separated from Signia, of which she still owns 49 per cent.

TSB: Pester’s multi-columned pay packet

TSB Bank prides itself on transparency. It has a site called “Truth and Banking” to try to dispel customers’ confusion over how banks work. “It’s not always obvious what goes on in banks, but at TSB we have nothing to hide,” says the site. It even has videos explaining how it makes its money.

What is not clear — and certainly not obvious — is Paul Pester’s pay packet. The chief executive made just under £1.9m last year. Yet how exactly Mr Pester makes his money might also require a video.

This week’s TSB annual report displays a multi-columned table, with rows dividing Mr Pester’s pay into categories. These rows are then cross-sectioned with columns, splitting the pay categories into two types of policies across different timeframes. For those who manage to navigate the table, there are nine chunky footnotes to wade through. “How does Paul Pester make his money?” Coming soon to a computer screen near you.

Ondra: Schroders veteran hired

Lehman Brothers is dead. Long live Lehman Brothers. Its former bankers at least. Ondra, the advisory boutique founded in 2008 by two old Lehmanites, is growing. Its latest partner-level hire is Robert Hingley, one-time head of the UK Takeover Panel. The former Schroders veteran might not have Lehman on his CV, but Ondra should be a good fit nonetheless.

Recently it advised white goods maker Indesit on its sale to Whirlpool, and drugs maker Elan on its sale to Perrigo. That style of work would combine Hingley’s corporate advisory work with his experience at the Takeover Panel and latterly at the ABI. Hingley’s approach seems keen to recall the days of “my word is my bond”. He also sits on the board of Save the Children. Another reason why Ondra fits the bill: its name derives from the Basque word for honour.

Terra Firma: Chief calls for return to basics

Guy Hands’ chestnut curls are turning more shades of grey than the film in the Odeon cinemas, a chain owned by his buyout firm Terra Firma. But there was plenty of black and white in Hands’ address to the industry’s recent SuperReturn conference in Berlin. He called for private equity to return to basics, with more of its own money at risk in deals alongside investors.

Oddly, among many of Hands’ previous SuperReturn speeches on Terra Firma’s website, 2015’s is yet to appear. Perhaps it has proved too hot to handle for rival Charterhouse, whose business model Hands opined in the speech was “a horrible message for investors to read”.

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