It’s hugs and smiles all around this week (unless you’re a housebuilder, of course), with bosses getting plenty of TLC, fathers learning from daughters, and Boris feeling the wind through his hair
Plenty to chew on at the Candys
I hear Candy & Candy is being cagey about its £1bn Chelsea Barracks scheme. A few months ago the developer’s press machine flatly denied rumours that London Eye architect Marks Barfield was to design an elevating marketing suite for it, so I was surprised to see that a detailed application for that very scheme was made to the City of Westminster’s planning division in April. Then again, a little reticence is hardly surprising, what with half of Kensington and Chelsea lining up to badmouth the plans for the Rogers Stirk Harbour scheme. The rumours are that a Plan B is being mooted for the 12.8 acre site. I wonder whether Candy & Candy would care to comment on that?
The freewheelin’ Boris Johnson
While British cyclists were pedalling gold in Beijing, a new cycle circuit for the next generation of Olympians was being opened in east London. The Redbridge Cycling Centre was built to replace the old Eastway circuit and is already being proclaimed the first legacy of the 2012 Games. Star of the show was bike-loving London mayor Boris Johnson, who delighted the dignitaries by riding a lap of the circuit. Boris couldn’t have looked happier if he was sticking out his legs and shouting “wheeee!” as he gleefully sped past dozens of disgruntled schoolchildren. Not sure that’s the best way to encourage the Chris Hoys of the future, though, Boris …
Bridge-building with Barratt
Barratt finance director Mark Pain recently told an interviewer that the four months he spent persuading the housebuilder’s banks to relax their lending agreements were the toughest of his career. No doubt. He continued bullishly: “This is a turbulent river and we’ve crossed it, but there are still some on the other side.” Some in the City weren’t convinced, given the beleaguered firm’s £1.7bn debt pile. “The same side of the river as Barratt is not necessarily where I’d want to be,” sniped one.
The power behind Mace
In these times of Blackberries, iPhones and GPSs, surely it’s not possible to run a major construction company without at least the most basic grasp of personal communication equipment? Well yes, apparently it is. It has come to my attention that Stephen Pycroft, chief executive of Mace, has come late to the art of the text message. He only learned how to compose and send one a few weeks back, a source close to him revealed. But who taught him? His personal assistant? Personal trainer? Of course not. It was his young daughter.
The long and winding road
As the spotlight turned again on housebuilders this week, fresh questions were raised about what hedge fund Toscafund was planning to do with its 27% stake in Redrow and 10% slice of Taylor Wimpey. Not a lot, according to someone close to Martin Hughes, Tosca’s boss. “He’s not into running companies; he’s more of a back-seat driver.” Well with the companies on the slow road to recovery, you can bet he’s asking: “Are we nearly there yet?”
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