Mondays don’t get much bluer than this one was for Carillion, do they? And let’s not delude ourselves otherwise: the fall-out will not be confined to the construction and service sectors.
As we report in this week’s issue, the shockwaves are already being felt across the property industry, with the futures of some major schemes now in doubt.
Of course, you have to ask how Carillion was still getting so much work. Last July, it topped the list of most shorted stocks on the London Stock Exchange. Indeed, before the company issued the first of three profit warnings, bets peaked to a point where 25% of its stock was out on loan and the hedge funds ultimately netted a cool £200m short-selling it.
Am I missing something? How come no one in government twigged that this meant the market had no confidence in Carillion? How come it continued to give Carillion huge contracts? That is one heck of a smoke signal to ignore. You’d hope that most property folk had already extricated themselves from any joint ventures or at least come up with a quickly actionable plan B. God help the small firms that couldn’t jump from the sinking ship even if they had wanted to.
It hasn’t all been bad news this week, though. Witness the surge in investment volumes last year to 26% above 2016 levels. It’s not exactly what was expected amid the torrid, ongoing Brexit negotiations – and it’s not who was expected or where. Move over Hong Kong buyers with your trophy London offices: the Brits are back! LSH’s Q4 figures show volumes were boosted by domestic players, quite an achievement considering that unlike their overseas counterparts they do not benefit from a cheap pound. There has also been increased investment in the regions. In fact, single-asset deals outside London hit £7bn in Q4 – their highest level since Q4 2006. That surely bodes well for the year ahead.
From the ridiculous to the sublime
… unlike someone’s incessant and while entertaining, frankly terrifying, Tweeting. Trump just can’t help himself, can he? Now we’ve had to endure him snubbing an invite to Britain on the grounds that the Obama administration’s decision (fake news, by the way: it was Bush’s) to leave the old US Embassy for the “off location” of Nine Elms was a “bad deal”.
Really? Tell that to Apple, which will set up its new UK HQ there. In Trump Twitter speak, NO! These two occupiers alone validate the scheme, which is finally coming to fruition in the same way another bold scheme many harboured doubts about did: The Shard.
In a bid to find a worthy successor to the late, great man behind that scheme, this year we will be presenting the inaugural Irvine Sellar Award at the Property Awards (on 17 April at Grosvenor House). If that’s you or someone you know, get your entries in pronto. Today is the deadline, although if you ask nicely, we might grant you a small extension.
While I’m on the subject of awards, we will be revealing the Best Places to Work on 23 February at The Brewery in London. These have been selected via rigorous employer and employee surveys and only the best have made the cut. If you want to find out who they are and what it takes to be the best, book your ticket now.