Magazine article The Spectator

In Siegmund's Shadow

Magazine article The Spectator

In Siegmund's Shadow

Article excerpt

WHEN Peter Spira left the bank that Siegmund Warburg built, a junior wrote to him: 'I will miss you, because I have always regarded you as the outstanding example of how to be a successful merchant banker without being an unmitigated sod - in my experience a rare combination.' (I bowdlerise.) How rare, we can now judge from his memoirs, Ladders and Snakes (available from Heywood Hill, 10 Curzon Street, London W1). He spent his formative City years at S.G. Warburg and had the misfortune to be, for a time, its founder's heir-apparent; he struggled to save Sotheby's from its evil genius, Peter Wilson, he tried the regimented life of Goldman Sachs, and he wound up at County NatWest with a ringside seat for disaster. Here was an explosive mixture of decent commercial bankers far out of their depths and (as Mr Spira might have said) unmitigated merchant bankers. …

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