It was political blogger Guido Fawkes who started the rumour earlier today that Lord Mandelson is set to do some advisory work for Lazard, the venerable investment bank.
It is a story that Lazard is making no effort to deny. Richard Creswell, the bank’s head of press, tells me: “We will decline to comment…I’ve got nothing else to say“.
UPDATE (5.45pm) I’ve heard from another source that Mandelson and Lazard have definitely been in talks about a contract.
If the rumour is correct it could prompt speculation as to whether there are any indirect connections between the former deputy prime minister and the bank. Here is one: Nat Rothschild, who is an old friend of Lord Mandelson – you may remember the famous Corfu story – used to work for Lazard in the mid-1990s before setting up his own hedge fund.
Incidentally Andrew Mitchell, now development minister, was an adviser to Lazard until June 2009, when several Tory frontbench MPs dropped their external jobs to concentrate on politics.
Lord Mandelson is chairman of a new partnership called Global Counsel, in which WPP holds a minority stake. It is a “global advisory partnership serving non-British companies or organisations and working with British companies or organisations outside the UK.”
He has to operate under these rules from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments:
Having left office over six months ago, the Committee sees no reason why he should not set up Global Counsel LLP forthwith, subject to the condition that, for 12 months from his last day in office, he should not undertake any work which involves providing advice to any company or organisation on the terms of any bid or contract relating directly to the work of any UK Government Department or Agency, or draw on any privileged information which was available to him as a Minister for the benefit of WPP or any of his clients. Also, for 2 years from the same date, he should not become personally involved in lobbying UK Government Ministers or Crown servants, including Special Advisers, on behalf of WPP or any of his clients