Richard Abadie to remain in post until spring as Treasury struggles to find successor

Richard Abadie will remain as the Treasury’s PFI tsar until at least spring, because the department has failed to find a successor in time for his December leaving date.

The news emerges at a critical time for the PFI, as the government plans to experiment with the procurement route. Its proposals include the removal of soft services such as cleaning and catering from contracts and reducing deal lengths from 30 to 10-15 years.

Abadie, who has been on secondment from Pricewaterhouse Coopers for two years, has agreed to continue overseeing this overhaul by heading the private finance unit “for a few more months”, according to a Whitehall source.

It is believed the Treasury received about 10 applications for the job, few of which were of the calibre expected. Big hitters, such as former Currie & Brown director Richard Payne and Jeff Thornton, the former head of Royal Bank of Scotland’s PFI business, decided against applying. One reason cited was the prospect of dealing with civil service bureaucracy.

A senior industry source said: “They got some interesting names, but they wanted some really good ones. In some ways it’s good news, as they didn’t want any second-raters.”

One PFI player who declined an invitation to apply added: “The Treasury did not give itself much time, as it only started advertising in September.”

Abadie’s reappointment was crucial because arguably the most highly regarded of his team, senior financing adviser Danny Daniels, is joining the Ministry of Defence (MoD) next month.

Daniels will succeed Nick Prior as director of the MoD’s private finance unit. Prior was also tipped for Abadie’s job, but he joined Deloitte & Touche this week as a senior corporate finance partner specialising in PPP.