BACK IN THE SADDLE FOR PROPERTY’S EPIC CYCLE

AS MEMBERS of the property world flock into Cannes today for a week of networking at the industry’s MIPIM conference, 86 of their peers are taking a slower route through the French countryside by taking part in the six-day Aedas Cycle to Cannes charity ride.

Executives from firms including Land Securities, Capital and Counties, and Savills swapped their suits for lycra last Thursday morning when they set off from London City Hall, in high spirits and with 1,500km ahead of them.

The Capitalist caught up with a few of the cyclists yesterday as they arrived in the small village of Chalamont, south of Dijon for a well-earned lunch break.

Apart from 30 punctures on their first “muddy, wet and miserable” day in France, and one guide bus getting lost yesterday morning, the adventure has so far passed without too many bumps, bruises and saddle sores.

There has even been time for some business talk along the way. The sale of Battersea Power station and the question of who can breathe new life into the derelict London landmark was one topic that kept cyclists occupied – and should keep the property sector pedalling for a few decades.

Sir Peter Rogers, who leads the Mayoral team on Regeneration, Growth and Enterprise, will greet the riders when they arrive in Cannes tomorrow with Savills hosting what is expected to be a champagne-fuelled welcome party.

Cyclist John Nordon of Woods Bagot, insisted that MIPIM had put some of its more party-centric days behind it: “What you have seen over the last few years is much more sensible behaviour and better quality meetings,” he reassured The Capitalist.

Lets hope there is still chance for a glass of champagne or two.

WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
FINANCIAL regulators are always looking for new ways to test a company’s finances. Now Irakli Gilauri, chief executive of Bank of Georgia has an interesting suggestion: war.

Gilauri, in town to celebrate his company’s premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, told The Capitalist why his company is a safe investment: “Our balance sheet was not stress tested through an Excel spreadsheet. It was stress tested by a conflict with Russia.”

The bank suffered a fully-fledged deposit run during the 2008 war but – unlike Britain’s Northern Rock – managed to pay off all the depositors.

“And within six months of the war ending our deposits doubled because there was so much confidence in us.”

He has reason to be happy – the new listing means his bank is set to become a FTSE 250 company and he hosted a packed reception for investors at the Mandarin Oriental featuring an energetic display from the Georgian National Ballet (pictured). Georgia’s economy will grow by more than five per cent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

KICKED INTO TOUCH
NO doubt inspired by England’s so-far-so-average performance in the RBS Six Nations, last Thursday night saw rugby enthusiasts from across the City come together at the offices of law firm Norton Rose to a launch of City Scrum – the Square Mile’s only touch rugby tournament.

Celebrating its fifth year, the 2012 City Scrum will see sixteen teams from companies including Barclays, KPMG and Morgan Stanley battle it out for the City Scrum Cup on Thursday 15 March at the Honourable Artillery Company – each with their very own Harlequins professional to provide coaching on the day.

Though the sought-after cup could be anyone’s at this point, The Capitalist has an early tip for success, after spotting Royal Bank of Canada team captain Richard Barnes talking tactics with Harlequins’ stars Sam Smith and Sam Twomey.