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September 12, 2008

For you, Mr Gowers, the war is over

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

To say that Andrew Gowers was a popular editor of the Financial Times would be stretching it a bit.

Gowers left the FT abruptly in 2006 after a five-year stint. He cited “strategic differences” and made his way to the investment bank Lehman Brothers, where he became head of corporate communications.

If you’ve ever wondered what the highly-paid PRs employed by banks like Lehman actually do for a living, an answer is at hand.

Typically, once every decade, amid a nasty financial crisis, they fight like good ‘uns to convince the world that their employer isn’t going to go down in flames.

Gowers has been doing this for the past few month, grappling with a tide of rumours about Lehman Brothers that culminated in this week’s announcement of an apocalyptic $3.9bn quarterly loss.

Fat lot of good his time at the FT did him.

Lehman has always enjoyed a reputation for sailing close to the wind. Now everyone and his mum suspects that the bank’s taste for dodgy mortgages willconsign it to the great credit crunch in the sky.

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Gowers must have been mildly chagrinned by the coverage he received in the FT‘s Lex column, which described the bank’s post-results rescue plan as “incomplete” and full of “good intentions” and “token gestures”.

But there was worse to come at FT Alphaville, which has taken to calling the bank “Lehmon” (as in lemon). The Alphaville hacks described Lehman’s chief executive “broken and defeated” during this week’s emergency conference call.

But that was nothing compared with the vilification handed out by Alphaville’s readers in the comments. Or the outlook as envisaged by the Independent‘s always-excellent Jeremy Warner.

For Mr Gowers, it would seem, the war is over. . . He hasn’t resigned yet. But according to the Daily Telegraph, a new career in Whitehall beckons.

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