HEADACHE FOR AVIVA INVESTORS OVER THEIR LIBYAN LANDLORD

INTERESTING times at 14 Cornhill, the commercial property with a prime location opposite the Bank of England. Its owner has become embroiled in a little local difficulty involving global asset freezing.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the sovereign wealth fund that administers the troubled country’s oil billions, has owned 14 Cornhill since December 2009, when it snapped up the property – the former HQ of Lloyds TSB – for about £125m.

All was going swimmingly for the LIA’s London property portfolio until the recent troubles leading to the freezing of Gaddafi’s assets, which begs the question: what will happen now to the rent paid by the building’s City tenants, which include Russian bank OAO VTB Group and Aviva Investors?

Both Aviva and James Andrew, the agent that administers the building, declined to comment. However, Trevor Abrahmsohn, managing director of estate agent Glentree, anticipates all the rent monies received will have to be kept in a UK account pending political change in Libya.

“It’s fine as long as the money comes in [from the tenants], as long as nothing goes out,” he said.

FLEE THE COUNTRY
ON the subject of Middle Eastern property deals, The Capitalist hears that estate agents at the quality end of the residential market are experiencing a rush of calls from wealthy individuals looking to exit that part of the world as quickly as possible.

In fact, so eager are these househunters to flee the unrest that they are willing to pay up to £20,000 per week to rent a London home for their families, and are enquiring about lets of one to two years, rather than the usual five-week summer stays.

And as the global banking sector starts to pick up, there is a second boom in the number of financial services workers relocating to London from Europe and America – apparently the radius around the prestigious American School in St John’s Wood is fast becoming the new Square Mile.

LUNCHTIME SAMBA
THERE are only two years to go until the Guildhall School of Music’s new concert hall in the Heron development opens (computer generated image of the scheme below), so to mark the occasion, a samba band will perform an open-air “hard hat prom” on the construction site at 1pm today.

City workers can watch the performance – which will include Olympic Fanfare by John Williams and The Great Gate of Kiev by Mussorgsky – from a viewing gallery around the construction site on Silk Street. Hard hats and overalls not included.

BIG SOCIETY
THE Capitalist is sure business leaders are agog to hear how they can contribute to Prime Minister David Cameron’s vision of a Big Society.

Well fret no more, because Business in the Community has launched Give & Gain Day: the UK’s biggest employee volunteering day on 24 June when, the body hopes, thousands of employees will give up a couple of hours during their working day to volunteer in their local communities.

Truett Tate, BITC chairman of the Employee Volunteering Leadership Team and group executive director of sponsor Lloyds Banking Group, believes the scheme is a winner.

“I recognise the benefits volunteering brings to my organisation and the impact only a few hours of giving can have on a local community,” he said.

VIDEO TOP TRUMPS
MINOR royalty and C-list celebs were banned from Mahiki on Tuesday night to make way for a cocktail-fuelled networking event for 250 young City professionals from firms including Goldman Sachs, hedge fund GLG and Merrill Lynch.

The event was organised by Alan Mak, a lawyer at Clifford Chance, who invited members of the Cambridge 10 – City professionals who graduated from Cambridge in the last 10 years – as well as their Oxford counterparts and City alumni of Harvard Business School. Gallons of mohitos, pina coladas and coconut grenades were downed as the guests “networked like mad”, with the mingling boosted by giving each guest a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and told to find the other five people to complete it.

However, no-one could trump the style of the party-goer from a Russian hedge fund, who presented contacts with a business card with an inbuilt video presenting highlights about his company. A wide-eyed Mak said: “It took bling to a new level.”