Big earners and big spenders

This is the time of the year when we earth-bound schleps sit around feeling a mixture of envy and stupefaction as we come to terms with the scale of bonuses being trousered by those Masters of the Universe over in the City of London.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I console myself with the thought that while they're all charging across London at 6.10am in their chauffeured Mercs en route to their finance houses, I'm still enjoying 40 winks in my bed (assuming the cat hasn't got the munchies and is trying to break down the bedroom door).

Well, in 2007 these financiers have made their way out of the Square Mile and into MT's Top 100 Entrepreneurs league table, where they dominate the top 10. Four of the first five run financial services businesses in areas such as broking, trading and investment management. Peter Cruddas, son of a Smithfield meat porter, is No. 1 - and well done to him. But it's not all going to him - he has created nearly 400 jobs in his business.

Those who make money out of money had one helluva year in 2006. The investment banks, hedge funders and private equity attack dogs were falling over each other in a frenzy of dealmaking. Financial leveraging is reaching giddy heights. Some of us are getting nervous that it might all end in tears.

One country that isn't short of entrepreneurial spirit is Iceland. I'm old enough to recall the mid-70s Cod Wars, when Icelandic gunboat captains appeared to a teenage Brit like pirates on the high seas. Iceland has altered beyond recognition since then and I've wondered for a while where on earth all the money comes from as youthful, poster-boy tycoons like Thor Bjorgolfsson and Jon Asgeir Johannesson spend their fortunes on high-profile UK assets.

As a long-suffering West Ham fan, I was also intrigued to find out where my team's new owners earned their studs. So I flew off to Iceland to find out; you can read what I discovered on page 48. I have to say I had a great time, and not just because I avoided the old delicacy of shark putrified in urine.

So, Happy New Year. Lots to look forward to in 2007, including our new-look website (coming soon) and MT's new spin-off accelerator, aimed at small businesses - encouraging entrepreneurs into that Top 100 for years to come.


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