There was a time when the name Ritblat meant a lot more than the name Candy in the property world. Clearly no longer.
How else can one explain why the vast majority of the media reported one “possible” bid for Capco this week, over another, far stronger, line about a bid for its troubled Earls Court scheme in west London?
As journalists’ eyes were diverted to the glamorous headlines generated by a story about Nick Candy and his Saudi friends considering a bid for Capco, the more concrete and active line in the long-running Earls Court saga was largely ignored.
Just after Candy confirmed his interest in Capco, the company revealed that, just the day before, it had entered a short period of exclusive talks with Jamie Ritblat’s Earls Court bid vehicle set up by his firm Delancey. In other words, old school Ritblat has the jump on nouveau Candy.
Quite how long this “short period” of exclusivity lasts is not known. But what is known is that Ritblat has access to the numbers and is in a stronger position than Candy to mount a solid bid for Earls Court than Candy is to make one for the entire group.
There’s another key consideration here. Capco’s chief executive Ian Hawksworth is rather keen on his long spoken of demerger of Capco, which would see the Earls Court scheme farmed off to a buyer or as its own listed company, while he takes care of the far more lucrative and recession-resistant Covent Garden portfolio.
This is perhaps why Hawksworth is talking to Ritblat so enthusiastically. That deal gives him what he really wants. The opportunity to finally rid himself of the oh so troublesome Earls Court, and a second chance to prove himself as a good property company boss.