John Gardiner, who wrote the Lex column at the Financial Times in the 1960s and later became a successful businessman, has died at the age of 87.
Geoffrey Owen writes, “After graduation, he turned down several City jobs before joining the Prudential as an economist in 1957. From there, he moved to the Financial Times and was soon appointed to the Lex column. This was the start of what David Kynaston, in his history of the FT, has described as that column’s golden age. Together with his close colleague, James Joll (who was later to become finance director of Pearson), he made Lex a hugely influential voice in the financial community.
“Gardiner had the natural scepticism of the good journalist but a real interest in how business worked. He was fearless in his analysis, in his cross questioning of the captains of British industry and utterly straightforward. He and Joll were a formidable pair — noisy, young and self-confident. These were the days before there were swarms of analysts following a company’s every move, and Lex would often be the only outsider to talk to the boss of a large company on its results day. City investors were expected to have read the column by the time they arrived at their desks in the morning. As a strong independent commentator, Lex could also have a decisive impact in a contested takeover bid — another reason for company bosses to treat it with nervous respect.
“Within the FT, Gardiner was seen as a model for how financial comment should be written. As Richard Lambert, a Lex writer and later editor of the paper, recalled: ‘Gardiner was a demanding boss, who would invariably tear your copy to shreds when you passed it through for approval. But he would then take great trouble to explain how you might do better next time.'”
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