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PM to hand Lords seat to ICAP founder Spencer

by Ace Damon
PM to hand Lords seat to ICAP founder Spencer

ICAP billionaire Michael Spencer will be honored by Boris Johnson, paving the way for one of the city's most prominent figures to finally join the House of Lords.

Sky News found that Spencer – who was probably the most successful treasurer in the history of the Conservative Party – must be among a group of new conservative peers named on the Dissolution Honor Roll in the coming weeks.

Westminster sources said this weekend that Spencer was "practically certain" to be on the list.

His appointment would come four years after David Cameron's previous attempt to ennoble him ended in failure amid political acrimony.

Previous efforts to hand Spencer a colleague have been blocked by ICAP's involvement in the Libor tariff scandal, which saw the broker interdealer fined in 2013 by regulators in London and New York.

The city mogul, however, was never personally involved in any wrongdoing, and last year won a significant victory when the European Court of Justice overturned an attempt by Brussels to levy an additional multimillion-dollar fine on the company he ran.

Writing in the Sunday Times shortly after that verdict, Spencer accused watchmen of using massive fines to cover up their own shortcomings.

"The other companies paid without murmurs, despite the fragility of the case.

"We defied the decision because we knew that we had not practiced any cartel behavior and the entire investigation was designed to divert attention from regulators' failures to identify the approaching financial crisis."

Several ICAP officials have been charged by the Grave Fraud Office for their alleged role in the Libor scandal, but the case against them collapsed shortly after arriving in court.

Having seen the question marks against his reputation, the decision to ennoble Mr. Spencer will be a surprise.

He was among a group of substantial donors to Johnson's leadership offer last summer and, over a long period, gave millions of pounds to conservatives.

Friends estimate that he helped raise over £ 100 million for party coffers during his four years as treasurer, which culminated in him helping to shorten the funds that took Cameron to Downing Street in 2010.

Spencer is now part of the conservative establishment, having been appointed earlier this month as president of thinkcher Thatcherita, the Center for Policy Studies.

An ally of the businessman said that while his close ties to conservative leadership – and deep pockets – helped to revive his chances of appearing, he would also make a significant contribution to the upper house.

"Michael voted to remain in the EU referendum, but he is pragmatic and someone who cares deeply about the country's future," said a source close to Spencer on Saturday.

"He has a wide range of interests and would be a valuable member of you."

Spencer is also a notable philanthropist, having helped raise hundreds of millions of pounds for charities through private donations and the annual fundraising days held at ICAP offices.

Since selling the ICEX successor NEX Group to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2018 for £ 3.9 billion, Spencer has invested small pieces of his fortune in startups.

His family office vehicle now holds stakes in companies like Elvie, a maker of women's health products, and Veridium, a biometric fintech company.

It also holds a stake in the parent company of The Tote and Chapeldown, Britain's largest wine producer.

If he is confirmed on the list of the most recent honors, Spencer will join the ranks of the city's great lords, which include names like Lord Green, former president of HSBC Holdings and minister of commerce; Lord Lupton, Greenhill's former investment banker and treasurer of Tory; Lord Myners, who was parachuted as Treasury Minister by Gordon Brown during the financial crisis; and Lord Rose, the former head of Marks & Spencer.

Reports suggest that a new crop of pairs will be announced before the end of the month, although the list may still take until February to appear, according to Westminster sources.

It is expected to be dominated by former parliamentarians, with ex-cabinet minister David Lidington and ex-Tory president Patrick McLoughlin at his fingertips.

The appointment of new members of the Lords will inevitably provoke controversy, since they will almost certainly have chamber members above 800.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the candidate for leadership of the Labor Party, promised to abolish the Lords if she became prime minister.

The House of Lords Nominating Committee, which analyzes political nominations for peers, is not thought to have raised objections to Spencer's name being on the list.

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on Spencer this weekend, while a Spencer spokesman also declined to comment.

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