If you’re a conspiracy theorist or a person with pretensions to global importance, the annual Bilderberg meeting will be etched upon your mind in indelible ink. If you’re neither of these, you may be interested to know that Bilderberg is holding its ‘secretive’ annual meeting this week.
Incongruously, this year’s Bilderberg meeting is happening in Watford, an unglamorous outer London suburb. Interestingly, it’s being held in the same hotel as Google’s recent invitation-only ‘Zeitgeist’ event.
Although it’s portrayed in some circles as a covert and slightly sinister gathering to decide world affairs, Bilderberg’s agenda is made public on its website. Among other things, attendees this year will be discussing European politics, medical research, cyber warfare and big data.
Although banking and financial services regulation aren’t on the agenda, it seems that plenty of bankers and banks attend Bilderberg meetings on a regular basis. We’ve combed through attendee lists for the past five years and noted that some names and organisations appear repetitively. They are:
1. Josef Ackermann, former chief executive of Deutsche Bank
According to our research, Ackermann has been at every Bilderberg meeting since 2008 and is a member of the steering committee. Despite having stepped down from Deutsche Bank in May last year, Ackermann will be at Bilderberg again this week. Neither Anshu Jain nor Jurgen Fitschen are on the 2013 guest list.
2. Marcus Agius, ex-chairman of Barclays
Marcus Agius, the former Barclays chairman who stepped down after the Libor scandal, has also been a regular fixture on the Bilderberg circuit. Like Ackermann, Agius attended Bilderberg meetings between 2008 and 2012 and is a member of the steering committee. Even though Agius is effectively retired, he’s attending again this week. Sir David Walker, Barclays’ new chairman, isn’t attending; David Wright, vice chairman of Barclays, is.
3. Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners
Roger Altman, the ex-Lehman banker and founder and chairman of US-based ’boutique’ investment bank Evercore Partners, has also been at Bilderberg meetings on multiple occasions. Altman was there in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
4. Peter Sutherland, Goldman Sachs
Lloyd Blankfein was allegedly on the Bilderberg guest list in 2007, but since then he seems to have deferred attendance on behalf of Goldman to Peter Sutherland, a former chairman of BP turned chairman and managing director at Goldman Sachs International in London. Also attending this year is Michael Evans, a vice chairman of Goldman Sachs globally.
5. Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC
Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC, is also all over Bilderberg. Guest lists suggest that Flint attended the event in 2011 and 2012. By comparison, HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver appears to have given the event a pass.
6. Henry Kravis, co-founder KKR
Henry Kravis, the billionaire co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, has also been attending Bilderberg meetings for many years. Guest lists posted on the web indicate that Kravis has been every year since 2009.
7. Kenneth Jacobs, chief executive of Lazard
Both Kenneth Jacons, Lazard CEO, and Vernon Jordan, managing director of Lazard, are Bilderberg devotees. It doesn’t appear that Bruce Wasserstein, the ex-Lazard chief and dealmaker, attended on any occasions.
Which banks don’t do Bilderberg?
Several banks are conspicuously absent from the Bilderberg attendee list this year. They include: J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, UBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and every conceivable major hedge fund. Either the ‘finance lobby’ at Bilderberg is weakening or maybe banks deem Bilderberg a waste of time. Alternatively, conspiracy theorists might argue that senior bankers are attending in secret – the Guardian says the official list of attendees is nonsense.