RFP: Diary of an institutional investor, part 26

Will accidentally reveals what goes on inside the M&A boardroom.

Editor’s note: An AsianInvestor journalist visiting the office of Integrity Asset Management to interview its CEO, Kim Fang-Chan, regarding rumours the firm would be acquired by Swiss Heritage happened upon a recording device left in the bathroom which, it turns out, belongs to William T. Fitzgerald, head of institutional sales. This is a transcript of the recording.

Personae dramatis:
William T. Fitzgerald (WTF): You should know this guy by now…
Kim Fang-Chan (KFC): Integrity’s regional CEO, WTF’s boss
Cindy ‘Acting’ Tan (CAT): Integrity’s acting regional CIO, responsible for Asian equity portfolios; WTF’s ‘shouldn’t-but-would’
Kristophe Inge-Angerstamdt (KIA): Swiss Heritage’s regional CEO, has only been in Asia for three weeks, after the breakdown of his marriage meant he had to get out of Geneva (so the rumour goes)
Andreas Diederick Himpfeldorfer (ADHD): WTF’s opposite number at Swiss Heritage
James “Jamie” Jamieson III (J3): Asia-Pacific CIO at Swiss Heritage, known for making bold predictions at AsianInvestor conferences, none of which have ever come true

KFC: Thanks for coming everyone. We’re still awaiting further news from Europe about our proposed merger but I thought it would be worthwhile to…
J3: Can I just stop you there?
KFC: Yes?
J3: Water. We can’t have a meeting without water. [Sound of clinking bottles]
J3: Do you have sparkling? Cool - thanks.
KFC: Can I…?
J3: Do you have biscuits?
ADHD: Let’s just get on with it. I’ve got a meeting at four.
KFC: Well, it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other in the coming months so maybe let’s get started, in advance of the official word from Europe?
KIA: Great idea. I’ve just flown in from Geneva today and we should show them some blue-sky thinking, Hong Kong style.
WTF: Have you even looked outside?
KFC: Just take the notes, Will. Thank you.
ADHD: This takeover – sorry, merger – is all about scale in distribution, so we need to get that right up-front. I’ve got a few ideas on how we can…
J3: Can I just stop you there? We are both investment management houses: this must be about investment. We’re strong in Europe and Asia, the Integrity guys are good in the US. Together we cover the globe. Back me up here, honey, ain’t that right?
CAT: Huh? What? Sorry, missed that…
KFC: Put the BlackBerry away, Cindy, the world won’t stop turning. No – Will – come on, no need to write that down. [Loud tapping on the recorder; furniture moves]
KIA: I think you’re both right – the main focus is to boost distribution and make sure we don’t miss any of the low-hanging fruit, and if we can add a couple more strategies to our repertoire, then all the better.
ADHD: So let’s focus first on who we need to keep on the sales side. I’ve taken the liberty of summarising the current situation within both firms. [Sound of shuffling papers, followed by gasps]
WTF: What’s this? Where did you get this? You can’t just…
ADHD: Relax, Villy, it’s all public information.
WTF: But where did you get those pictures?
ADHD: That’s not important right now…
KFC: Will, sit back down.
ADHD: Sales, as you have often noted, Villy, is about…
[Musical interuption: Katy Perry's "Firework"]
CAT: Sorry, I’ve got to take this…….  Hello, oh hiiiii!
[Sound of door opening, closing]
ADHD: Great timing. Well, we’re all men of the world here now – sales is about brains and sex, as you yourself have pointed out, Villy. So we need to pick the smartest and the sexiest of our sales crew. Smarts at the top, sexy at the bottom – it never fails.
KIA: That’s my boy – straight to the point.
ADHD: Look at this one for a start – with a face like that, you’d have to hope she’s got a brain the size of a planet.
WTF: Now hold on a minute, that’s not quite what I meant. And anyway, April’s a key member of our team.
KFC: Now, William, keep your personal feelings out of this. Andreas has a point.
ADHD: Right. So let me say this to you: Geneva is not going to stand for the kind of new business results you have been posting, so we’re gonna have to start drawing up these lists, schnell! So if you could let me have the CVs of each member of your team? Oh, and yours too, Villy – thanks.
KIA: And client lists too. Just to check for overlap at this stage.
J3: Also, can I see your investment process books? – I don’t know how compatible our investment styles will be.
KIA: It’s OK, Jamie – that stuff can wait. We’ll do the business side first and let you guys muddle through as usual. That way, we can tell all clients it’s business as usual, until we decide which of the Integrity guys to sack.
WTF: What the [unintelligible]!?
KIA: Oh, sorry, yes, I see, gosh, errrrrrm I just translate in my head into English and it came out wrong. I meant to say: until we decide which of the Integrity guys to keep.
WTF: Yeah, that’s much better, thanks. Kim, we need to talk.
KFC: For once, William, you might be right. Gentlemen, lets reconvene once our CIO has more time. We’ve all got busy schedules…

William T. Fitzgerald is a fictional character, as are all the other individuals and companies in "RFP Diary". Any resemblance to the living or to real firms is purely coincidental. Will's adventures continue fortnightly.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.