Around eighty bankers, analysts and lawyers squashed into a  meeting room at UBS this morning to hear Tony Pidgley's swansong as managing director of Berkeley.

Despite speaking for 45 minutes there was still enough energy in the room for a round of applause at the end. "It's been a while since I've heard a housebuilding boss get one of those," said one present.

They added: "It was a funny atmosphere. Because of who he is, Berkeley presentations can sometimes turn into a love-in."

He will certainly be an almost impossible act to follow after he moves upstairs to become chairman but what of Rob Perrins - his FD and freshly-anointed successor?

Perrins has been openly earmarked for the hot seat after a failed coup for control of the company in 2003 by Tony Pidgley junior. ("He's a good lad, an ambitious lad. It's always been his ambition to run Berkeleys, but I wasn't going to deliver my business to him.")

Pidgley admitted once that he got on better with his son after he left the company but there must be an emotional twinge of "what might have been" about the whole thing. 

But back to this morning and one analyst said Perrins came across a little nervously. At one stage someone even had the courage to question the wisdom of an FD stepping into the chief execuive's role - or the more British "managing director" in Berkeley's case.

In stepped Pidgley with a long and glowing eulogy about Perrins, asking people to trust his judgement. Who would dare argue on that score?

The fact Perrins is still at a company that one analsyt said has "chewed its way through several FDs" in the past also says a lot. 

The outgoing Berkeley chair is Victoria Mitchell, who normally sits quietly in the front row of these presentations. You can't imagine Pidgley doing the same given the company he founded 33 years ago is very much his "baby" .

Another at the event said:  "If I was Perrins I'd be a bit nervous about being handed the keys to the kingdom while the king is still in residence."

Pidgley deserved the applause he got this morning but it makes you wonder how difficult it will be to resist an encore or two in future.