Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is Chandilla Fernando a real financial professional?

Femme-de-R's investigation of the first Liberal Democrat presidential candidate to be beaten by Lembit Opik inspired me to do some sleuthing of my own.

Bedford Newhall Capital turns out to be a brass plate company. Its registered office address is c/o a firm of professional company administrators. It doesn't say what its principal business is in its Companies House filings. And it hasn't submitted any accounts since it was set up in March.

This doesn't look like a hedge fund to me - mostly because a hedge fund would be a brass plate company somewhere exotic (and tax-free) like Grand Cayman, not somewhere dingy (and overtaxed) like Walthamstow. There would be a management company associated with the hedge fund, but this would almost certainly be registered by lawyers or chartered accountants, not a general-purpose admin office.

Given that Fernando "travels around the country visiting companies and working with them on sales, marketing and finance driven projects", it looks like he bills through his personal company. This is quite common, mostly for tax reasons. The lack of a professional website suggests that he isn't making that much effort to drum up business.

In other words, since March of this year Fernando has been a consultant, in the sense of "I'm not unemployed, I'm a consultant". Or perhaps he is working too hard at Liberal Vision to have much time for the day job.

I also took a closer look at Vercor, his previous employer. The first point is that "Managing Director" does not mean as much in an investment bank as it does in a normal business - about a tenth of the employees at Very Big Bank where I work are Managing Directors. The "Our Professionals" page of the Vercor website strongly implies that almost all their professional staff are given the title.

The other point is that the "Our Offices" page does not show a London office. I guess the office shut down when the single employee left.

The final question about Vercor is whether it was actually bringing in Cityboy kinds of money. Their website claims that Vercor people have facilitated over $500 million in transactions. This kind of business takes a 6-10% commission, so the total revenue is $30-50 million. But not all of this business was done at Vercor - it includes deals done by Vercor people before they joined the firm. So technically the claim would be true if one of the MD's had proofread an offer document for a big corporate deal while he was a graduate trainee at Lehmans. Looking at their "Past deals" page shows only two transactions which were actually advised on by Vercor - both shredder companies on the US West Coast.

Since Vercor did no deals out of their London office, Fernando probably wasn't bringing in much revenue. And given that the average Vercor MD has brought in less than 2 million dollars over their whole career (much less if they did some of their deals as a junior at another firm) before expenses, they probably didn't have much spare cash to invest in an overseas business. So I guess Fernando was about as gainfully employed at Vercor as he is at Bedford Newhall.

Conculsion - the guy is a dilettante with an entrepreneurial streak but no proven business success. Probably not suitable for running a medium sized bureaucratic organisation. Definitely not suited to play a key role in a major UK political party.

5 Comments:

  • At 12:13 am , Anonymous Alix said...

    If it was set up in March, it wouldn't have been required to submit any accounts yet so there's nothing particularly significant about that.

    But still, Ha! and Good work! Much as I suspected.

     
  • At 12:18 am , Blogger Hywel said...

    He also says he's 30 and a member of Liberal Youth. From memory in the LDYS days I thought reaching 30 was the point at which you couldn't be a member anymore.

    Or maybe they just thought I'd hung around long enough :-)

     
  • At 6:32 am , Blogger LibertyCat said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 6:35 am , Blogger Femme de Resistance said...

    Congrats to LibertyCat!

    I feel a career exposing the likes of Enron crumbling before my eyes since I'd started the investigation while revising and then LibertyCat was all 'Have you checked Companies' House?' and I felt rather lame.

     
  • At 5:43 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     

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