Earlier this year, a Vancouver-based mining company called First Quantum Minerals won a hostile takeover battle for control of another Canadian mining company, Inmet Mining. Unless you follow the daily machinations of the Canadian mineral markets, you probably didn't hear about it.
But the First Quantum–Inmet takeover was a very big deal for the banks that arranged it — Jefferies, Goldman Sachs, and RBC Capital Markets — each of which racked up big fees for helping bring the takeover to fruition. So naturally, when it came time to celebrate the deal's completion, the bankers went with a tasteful (and tasty) trophy: a giant cake shaped like a hat-wearing snake.
The cake, which surfaced on the Facebook page of London-based cake-maker Asha Gangaram, was brought to the Churchill War Rooms last week for a party celebrating the mining deal, which was code-named "Project Akubra," presumably after the brand of Australian hat. Most big Wall Street mergers and acquisitions are commemorated with so-called "deal trophies," but they're usually small glass or Lucite tokens etched with the names of the underwriting banks, not edible confections.
It appears to have been a taxing cake to bake. "A challenging cake to say the least, and my first 'structured' cake," Gangaram wrote. "Who knew to be a cake maker, you would need to visit the DIY store?!" It began its life as a plain, snake-shaped lump of cake:
And gradually got features like fangs added on:
Until it was ready to be eaten:
But what do Australian hats have to do with mining deals? And why is the snake wearing one? And why a snake, for that matter?
Both the cake's snake shape and the deal's code name (Project Akuba) appear to be wordplay based on Inmet's "Cobre Panama" project, a huge copper reserve in Panama that came along as part of the deal. Reuters reported in March that "First Quantum ... is betting its hands-on approach to construction, procurement and supervision will help slash costs at Cobre Panama while keeping to deadlines." Cobre ... cobra ... Panama ... panama hat ... Project Akubra ... it all sort of works.
Still, if cutting costs was the goal, First Quantum might not want to celebrate its successful takeover by ordering a huge, expensive cake. (Gangaram didn't respond to a request for comment on the cake's cost, but it's safe to assume it cost a bit more than your average Safeway sheet cake.) Let's hope the bankers picked up the tab.
Update: Snake cake maker Gangaram tells us that the cake was commissioned by Jefferies, and that it was "custom made, in line with mini 'trophies' that were being handed out at the celebration event that evening, which again had been designed by the people at Jefferies." Goldman and RBC, you're off the hook.