Blair Could Net US$650K For Lansdowne Talks

Jan 26 2010 | 11:50am ET

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new hedge-fund gig may be even more lucrative than originally thought.

Blair, who will give four speeches on geopolitical issues to London-based Lansdowne Partners, may be getting as much as £400,000 from the hedge fund. Sky News, which first reported the story yesterday, had put the figure at tens of thousands of pounds, rather than hundreds.

Tony BlairTony BlairThe engagement with Lansdowne could imperil any role for Blair in Britain’s upcoming general election, in which Blair’s Labour Party—which has been in power since 1997—seek to stave off the surging Conservative Party. Blair led Labour to an unprecedented three general election victories during his decade as premier.

“Tony Blair is utterly shameless,” Matthew Oakeshott, Treasury spokesman for the third-party Liberal Democrats, told The Independent. “He seems happy to take money from anybody, whether they are donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to the [Conservative] Party or whether they are hedge funds that make huge profits from selling Britain’s banks short.”

Lansdowne earned £100 million on bets against collapsed British lender Northern Rock, and its co-founder, Paul Ruddock, is a big donor to the Conservatives.

Blair’s people have yet to publicly take issue with such attacks, but have objected to suggestions that Blair had joined Lansdowne. Sky reports that, if the speaking engagement goes well, the former prime minister could be brought on in a formal advisory role.

But a spokesman for Blair said he would “not take a job with Lansdowne Partners.” The spokesman said that the talks were arranged by the Washington Speakers’ Bureau, Blair’s agents for such events.

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