10/04/2011 - Tory Big Spenders

AT THE START of this year we announced that we’d be producing a whole series of articles looking at the banks, big business, politicians and media.  We also noted that an article in the forthcoming issue of British Worker would ask – in part - for any background information on these areas of interest. 

This information is required so that we can try to build up an overall picture of who owns what and who owns who.  Essentially, we wanted to look at who owns – and runs – Britain (1).

We later announced that we also wanted to look at the establishment trade union leaders and the unions they head.  Of particular interest to us are the incomes and assets of both the leaders and the unions themselves (2).

We kicked off our series by looking at Lord Young (David Cameron’s former enterprise adviser) and Conservative peer Howard Flight (3).  Our attention was drawn to them because, late last year, they were in the news for all the wrong reasons (4).

Other businessmen who have been in the news recently are David "Spotty" Rowland, Stanley Fink and George Magan.  In February we revealed that they had made huge donations to the Tory Party – Rowland gave more than £4m, Fink £1.9m and Magan £485,000 (5). 

(Other big donors included hedge-funders Michael Hintze of CQS, and Michael Farmer of RK Capital Management).

So who are these three really big spenders – Rowland, Fink and Magan?

David Rowland was born in 1945, the son of a South London scrap-metal dealer.  He went to Glastonbury Comprehensive School in Morden (in South London) and left at the age of 15 without any O levels. 

However, according to the Independent, he “made his first million aged 23, earning him the nickname Spotty for having barely shed his adolescent skin. He went on to amass a complex property and investment fortune, and is based in Guernsey.” (6)

MoneyWeek – ‘The UK's best-selling financial magazine’ – called him “one of the most colourful deal-makers of the 1970s and 1980s.  His speciality was aggressive corporate raids.” (7) 

In 2009, the Sunday Times estimated that Rowland Capital - the family firm he runs with his son, Jonathan – was worth around £630m (8).  However, last year a BBC report noted that, Rowland, “according to The Sunday Times Rich List has an estimated fortune of more than £700m.” (9)
Looking at these figures, it’s clear why Rowland can afford to give the Tories so much money.  What’s not so clear, however, is whether he was ever Conservative Party Treasurer.

The Daily Mail (10) calls him a “former Tory Party treasurer” whilst The Telegraph disagrees, saying that he “declined to take up the post of party treasurer last year after it drew attention to allegations about his business dealings and private life.” (11)

One man who definitely was Conservative Party Treasurer is Stanley Fink. 

Born in 1957, Fink is a hedge fund manager, the former CEO (from 2000 to 2007) and deputy chairman of the Man Group plc.

According to its web-site (12) the Man Group plc “is a world-leading alternative investment management business. It has expertise in a wide range of liquid investment styles including managed futures, equity, credit, emerging markets, global macro and fund of funds, combined with powerful product structuring, distribution and client service capabilities.”

Whilst with the Man Group, Fink was known as the godfather of UK hedge funds.  He’s certainly not short of a bob or two – in 2009 The Sunday Times Rich List estimated his wealth at £70m, a figure Fink says “is on the conservative side.” (13)

According to the web-site of philanthropyuk, after the Man Group he “became Chief Executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM), a London-based commodities trader, specialising in gold markets. He wants to increase ISAM’s assets ten-fold over the next five years.” (14) 

Interestingly, Lord Levy, the former Labour Party treasurer and Tony Blair’s personal envoy, is ISAM’s Chairman (15).

Fink was appointed co-treasurer of the Tory Party – along with Michael Spencer, the chief executive of ICAP – in January 2009. 

However, there seems to be some confusion over his current status as Tory Party treasurer.  Last year he was reported as saying that he would stand down after May’s General Election (16).  Yet a report by Jennifer Lipman in the Jewish Chronicle of January 20 2011, notes that “Stanley Fink has entered the House of Lords.  The co-treasurer of the Conservative Party took up his seat as Lord Fink today.” (17)
The last of the three big spenders is George Magan. 

According to the Conservative Party web-site “George was appointed Party Treasurer in June 2003.  He is one of the founders of Hambro Magan, and is currently a partner in Rhone Group plc, a private equity company with its headquarters in New York.  He is a director of a number of other companies involved in investment banking and private equity.  He was previously chairman of Hawkpoint Partners Ltd and assisted in the creation and separation of the firm from NatWest plc.” (18)

In 2009, The Times believed he was worth about £54m (19).

As we noted in our first article about Lord Young and Howard Flight, this is just a very brief look at the financial and business interests of David "Spotty" Rowland, Stanley Fink and George Magan.  We realise that we’ve really only just began to ‘scratch the surface’ here – what we’ve presented is just the bare bones.  In time we aim to add to our knowledge about ‘who’s who’ in Britain.      

Once again, we’d be interested to hear from any Solidarity members or supporters who can help us.  All of our research consists of looking for what is already in the public domain.  The trouble is that sometimes many sites have to be searched to obtain what we’re after.  Our plan is to combine our findings to produce ‘one-stop shop’ for trade unionists.

Therefore, if you have any information – or can help with research – please contact [email protected]  (Please don’t forget to include source material).