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City slackers

When foreign financiers stripped London of its snob class, the money woke up. But to stay slick, the city needs to regain an old honour system

in the winter of 1958, the City of London witnessed its first large-scale hostile bid. British Aluminium, chaired by a former wartime Chief of Air Staff and managed by the son of a former governor of the Bank of England, came under siege from a consortium of Reynolds Metals, an American company, and the British industrial firm, Tube Investments. Reynolds was advised by the upstart merchant-banking firm of SG Warburg. Despite a rearguard action by the City establishment, British Aluminium succumbed. The day after the bid was announced, the prime minister Harold Macmillan wryly observed, “It’s becoming rather a gentleman…

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