When they roll up outside Bilderberg, some of the guests simply cannot keep the grin off their faces. It’s all too amazing. This is the big time: their entry into the inner sanctum of power. The chance to rub clipboards with power, and slip out for a mid-conference cigarette with the king of Holland. Make a good impression, crack a few jokes about the Belgian PM, and who knows – maybe end up on the board of Royal Dutch Shell.
When Dave Cote, the boss of giant defence supplier Honeywell, got out of his limo, I honestly thought he was going to pop with joy. He hasn’t been this happy since his company was chosen to make the engines for Reaper drones.
But even grinning Dave wasn’t as giddy with glee as Niall Ferguson.Kissinger’s biographer burst out of his Mercedes like Usain Bolt off the blocks. Three days locked in a hotel basement with his beloved Henry! What could be sweeter?
Through the blinding intensity of his delight, Niall caught a fleeting glimpse of Jacob Wallenberg, the billionaire Swedish industrialist, fiddling with his luggage. He leapt across the hotel forecourt like a gazelle, darting between concierges so that he could trot along inside with Wallenberg. Zero to schmooze in 4.8 seconds. That’s world class.
Ferguson appears on the Bilderberg participant list as “professor of history, Harvard University”, which is true, but perhaps not quite true enough. Perhaps more tellingly, given the high-finance occasion, Ferguson is on the board of the boutique investment firm AMG, which “currently manages approximately $642bn in assets”. Not bad for a history don.