Heron chief warns of talent drain

GERALD Ronson, the property tycoon responsible for building Heron Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the City, yesterday warned that politicians risk hounding entrepreneurs away from the UK with punishing tax hikes for the wealthy.

“My advice, to whoever wins the next election, is to be careful not to put too much pressure on the people who can make a difference,” said Ronson, speaking at the glittering annual lunch organised by his firm Heron International at the Dorchester.

“Entrepreneurs should not be the targets. Entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged, not penalised and driven out of the country. Entrepreneurs take personal and financial risk and create employment and enterprise. We have to be careful because it wouldn’t take a lot for us to slip back into recession.”

Heron’s annual lunch is the highlight of the social calendar for the bigwigs of the property and financial worlds. Over 400 guests descended on the Dorchester ballroom for yesterday’s event, including former Lloyds chairman Sir Victor Blank; Investec managing director Bernard Kantor; Lazard’s UK boss William Rucker; Mick Davis, chief executive of Xstrata; JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford; and property entrepreneur Nick Candy.

The lunch has been going for over 30 years and began as a small gathering for just 40 people in the penthouse at the Carlton Towers hotel.