Three staff to leave private finance unit over the next two months

Three important members of staff will leave the Treasury’s private finance unit in the next two months, fuelling fears that the team behind PFI policy will lose its most talented members.

It has been known for some time that Richard Abadie, the head of the unit, was going, but it has emerged that Jo Fox, a commercial adviser, will leave at the end of the month. John Crompton, a corporate private finance expert, is to leave in April.

All three were on secondment from the private sector and will return to their companies. Danny Daniels, another member of the unit to go, moved to the Ministry of Defence’s private finance team earlier this year.

Abadie had already had his contract extended from the end of 2006 while the Treasury looked for his replacement. He agreed to continue working for the Treasury one day a week until the end of this month.

A successor for Abadie has still not been named, though it is believed that the Treasury has identified a candidate. But the fact that the Treasury has failed to announce who will take over has dissuaded some potential successors to Fox, Daniels and Crompton from considering joining the unit.

A source close to the Treasury said: “They won’t get good people going in until they get clarity about the Abadie situation. It all looks like the sequel to the Mary Celeste. With Crompton, Daniels and Fox gone they are completely out of real talent.”

It is not certain that the Treasury will get exact replacements. Another source close to the Treasury speculated that officials might, therefore, decide to reconstitute the unit. The source added: “It will not necessarily be a case of getting like-for-like.”

Abadie will return full-time to PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Fox to KPMG and Crompton to Morgan Stanley Asia.