Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Barings Bank SIMEX trading jackets

I always felt there were two great mysteries of trading pit memorabilia and now experience tremendous relief at uncovering both, first there was the excellent Charlie D video and just as intriguing was what happened to the trading jackets of Barings Bank from the SIMEX trading pits.

For years I wondered and every attempt to discover the fate of the trading jackets always came up short. Inquiries to various trading floor staff I used to put my SIMEX orders through were fruitless as even the former Barings workers claimed that they no longer had their jackets. Recently I learned there is a good reason why because after the bankruptcy was announced, the jackets were left hanging in the coat room, eventually got collected and then were shipped to London w/other Barings items which the liquidators held onto for over a decade before being dealt with.

In April 2007 Nick Leeson's personal jacket was first offered briefly on ebay by the bankruptcy liquidators KPMG but the top bid of 16,100 GBP fell short of it's reserve price and was subsequently sold to Paul Taylor, a London investment manager for 21,000 GBP. Although that is a quite rich for my interest, I was traveling and didn't realize the jacket not only surfaced but changed hands until after it was finalized. Upon inquiry, I was told that there were no further jackets available and thought that was that.

Later in 2007, another jacket surfaced at a charity event titled the Distressed Investing Dinner and that Barings jacket was subsequently auctioned for 4,000 GBP.

It was fate however, that a London based collector of financial history contacted me recently to share his wonderful acquisition of the remaining six Barings jackets. And by fate, I mean that he wrote me while I was on vacation in Singapore and my hotel view was overlooking both Leeson's former office building (Ocean Towers) and also the site of where the SIMEX floor once stood.

And just past the former SIMEX floor is the infamous Harry's on Boat Quay which Leeson used to frequent. I myself am partial to Penny Black which is the pub next door.

But anyways back to the jackets....

The collector I corresponded with is a wonderful steward of financial history and was kind enough to share some photos below. He also opened the possibility of a museum or exhibition being able to borrow a jacket for display. If any entity would like to enquire about the potential, either post in the comments section or email tradingpithistory 'at' and I'll be certain to forward on the request. I do not believe that any further Barings jackets exist beyond the eight which I described above but if there are any further Barings jackets, I'd love to hear of their certified history.

Baring's jackets are easily some of the most sought after and rare pieces of trading pit history and with all the recent scandals such as REFCO or Lehman, hedge fund implosions or other derivatives disasters such as Metallgesellschaft, Barings stands apart by having it's scandal begun and ended on the trading floor.

This blog will continue to revisit the Barings story in the future as more time becomes available so do check back.
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