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Tony Blair hired as a speaker by hedge fund Lansdowne Partners

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Opalesque Industry Update: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to receive $325,000 from a major London-based hedge fund.

He is to deliver four exclusive speeches this year to executives and staff of Lansdowne Partners on geopolitical developments, various media reports said yesterday.

Sky’s Mark Kleinman said that the arrangement could possibly be extended to a more permanent advisory role if things go smoothly.

The Independent said that the deal between Blair and Lansdowne came as a surprise as the company’s chairman, Paul Ruddock, had donated over $650,000 to the opposition, the Conservative Party.

A report by Financial Advice said that Blair’s acceptance of an advisory role with Lansdowne had inadvertently placed the UK government in a very difficult position, as indeed, the ruling Labour Party is adamant that the UK financial sector needs to pay for the ongoing economic turmoil in the UK.

Blair has now amassed a multi-million pound fortune since he left the position of prime minister in June 2007 using many of the contacts which he built up during his time at the head of the UK government, the report said.

The former prime minister's spokesman declined to comment on his fees, although he is reported to earn as much as £180,000 (US$292,000) for 90 minutes for his thoughts on geopolitical matters in countries from Spain to the Philippines. That works out at about £2,000 a minute. "He [Blair] remains one of the most popular speakers around the world," the spokesman told The Guardian.

The announcement also came days before the former Labour Party leader is due to appear before an inquiry into the Iraq war. On Friday, in the Queen Elizabeth conference centre in London, he will be asked to go through the facts once again, as the star witness at Sir John Chilcot's inquiry into the Iraq war, reportedThe Scotsman.

For about a week every month Blair is in Jerusalem, working as Middle East envoy.

According to the Financial Times, Lansdowne has been known to hire senior former politicians, including former prime ministers and U.S. senators, to give its staff exclusive talks.

Lansdowne is Europe's fourth largest hedge fund. It is believed to have made hundreds of millions of pounds during the 2008 banking crisis from short-selling shares in the financial services industry, said The Independent.

The Mayfair-based hedge fund is believed to have raked in close to £100m after holding on its position in Northern Rock for two years, initially taking in losses, before the bet paid out by the time the bank was nationalized. It also profited by betting on the fall of Barclay’s shares last year, and shorted Allied Irish Bank as well as many in the UK insurance sector.

As at June 2009, Lansdowne ran $11.9bn in assets, reported Reuters.

Not surprisingly, Lansdowne Global Financials Fund was one of the major winners in the EuroHedge Awards held in London last Sunday. Lansdowne won the Long Term Performance Award based on the best risk-adjusted returns by hedge funds over a five-year period. – written by PD –


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