Not everyone was a loser when Northern Rock came crashing down. Financier Paul Ruddock’s Lansdowne Partners hedge fund bet on its collapse, called it right and netted £100 million profit.

Lansdowne made a further £28 million on the Barclays Bank share price by acting very quickly when the ban on short selling was lifted.

A former pupil of the independent King Edward’s School in Edgbaston, Paul Ruddock, 50, co-founded Lansdowne in 1998 with Steven Heinz. He is now chief executive of the firm which has £9 billion of funds under management, and has won a string of awards.

Before setting up Lansdowne he was managing director and head of international at Schroders, and also worked in investment equities at Goldman Sachs. He has more than 27 years experience in global financial markets.

He is a vociferous defender of hedge funds describing them as a 60-year-old industry which has produced some “incredibly talented traders” who would not fit into a traditional banking environment.

He recently made a big donation to help his old school build a £10 million arts centre, as a thank you for the education he received after winning a free place at the school in the 1970s with a government-funded grant scheme. The arts centre, serving both his old school and the neighbouring Kind Edward VI High School for Girls will feature a 430 seat concert hall as well as a rehearsal and dance studio.

The Prime Minister appointed Paul Ruddock as chairman of the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2007. He had been closely associated with the museum for several years before that, having chaired its finance committee and its development committee, and has brought in many substantial donations to the museum.

He is also a substantial contributor to the Conservative Party.