Impresario with . . .
I WENT to lunch with Michael Von Clemm in the Mayfair town house he had colonised for Merrill Lynch. French win- dows opened out onto a lawn and the catering was by the Roux brothers. It seemed — it was — a long way from Canary Wharf, the banking factory in deep- est Docklands that had been his brainchild. This address, Michael thought, suited him better: 'So much more convenient for one's tailor, one's wine merchant, one's club, one's home and of course one's airport.' That was essential for the international financial markets' greatest impresario. He was constantly in flight. I once caught up with him in Washington, where he was feeding up some minute Mongolian central bankers. He had the entrée everywhere. When some treasurer made difficulties about seeing him, putting him off two or three times, Michael pulled a camera out of his pocket and took the man's picture: 'I wanted to be able to prove that you exist- ed.' He had been present at these markets' creation. Chance had brought him to that nursery of talent, the London office of the First National City Bank of New York, just as change was stirring around the City's bombsites and within its over-comfortable banking parlours. New markets in money and capital, knowing no frontiers but excluded from New York by clumsy regula- tion, were beginning the City's transforma- tion to an offshore financial centre on Thames, and Michael's original and active mind was in its element.