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The worm turns good for Hiard

The City of London's usual summer slowdown was even more apparent than usual this summer as bankers' attention was grabbed by the most exciting Test Match series ever. England narrowly beat Australia for the Ashes, the sport of cricket's most prized trophy. The UK population, normally only interested in the histrionics of footballers and their wives, fell in love with cricket once again as England outplayed their arch-rivals for the first time in almost 20 years.

England's hero was all-rounder Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, the player of the series. Flintoff's sponsor, Barclays Capital, has received great publicity throughout the summer. Every time Freddie reached a milestone 50 or century, he would raise his bat and display the Barcap logo to the millions around the world watching on TV.

But there's another, more direct beneficiary with a City connection associated with Flintoff. Mike Hiard, one of the leading lights of the securities finance industry in the 1990s as founder of London Global Securities, and until recently head of securities finance for Citigroup, is one of the major investors in Woodworm, whose cricket products include bats. Both Flintoff and final Test hero Kevin Pietersen wield the Woodworm willow.

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