Posted by: Giles Barrie9 March 2011
It is amazing that news of the Tchenguiz brothers’ arrest broke during MIPIM week.
For the garish Cannes show came to be symbolised by Robert and Vincent’s entertainment every year.
I have to confess, though, on several occasions to have been completely bewildered by what was going on.
On one occasion in the first half of the noughties Robin Marriott [now at Private Equity Real Estate] and I went for a briefing below deck on Vincent’s new business plans.
Laid out before us was the most complex flow diagram I have ever seen. It showed the links between the Consensus group of companies, and all was going well.
Then Vincent mentioned that he was pushing into ’sub-prime’ property - the first time I had heard the term.
For Robin and I - schooled in the mantra of ’Location, Location, Location’ this was a great surprise. But was it? Vincent is often ahead of the rest of the field.
On another occasion Vincent delighted in propelling guests around the Cannes bay in a ’cigarette boat’, a wickedly thin and fast machine that satisfied his thirst for the high life.
After one trip on the boat a former colleague’s hearing was never the same again.
On another visit I made to meet Vincent on his boat I was told: ’You can’t see him - he’s in bed’.
The only strange thing was that it was four in the afternoon. And in fact this was quite out of character, because both Vincent and Robert are generally the politest of men.
Robert has had a lower profile at MIPIM in previous years.
But for a time in the early noughties at MIPIM he was the biggest name in town.
Holding court at the back of his yacht he would chat away as a succession of bankers came and went.
Everyone wanted a slice of the action which had seen Robert prosper on the back of a philosophy of well let property boldly bought when no one else would give it a second look.
Vincent’s boat looked forlorn this week as the news of his arrest broke. The sad thing is that he and Robert are among the most innovative financiers of their generation - relics of what is now a bygone age.