TODAY we kick off the countdown to the City A.M. Awards with the first of the shortlists – for Personality of the Year. Our awards, now in their third year, have established themselves as a key part of the business calendar, celebrating all of the City’s main sectors and the people that make sure London remains a global financial centre.

Over the next 10 days we will be revealing the shortlists across each of our 15 categories and profiling our nominees. First up, our five business personalities of the year, including the man behind one of the biggest deals of the year – the sale of a 45 per cent shareholding in Alliance Boots by Stefano Pessina and his private equity backers at KKR, at a value that surprised many.

One of our other short-listed candidates is Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of football’s Premier League. Earlier this year he pulled off a stunning deal, managing to sell the domestic live rights to Premier League football for the next three years at a 70 per cent hike in revenue.

Our third candidate is Lord Coe, a speaker at our inaugural event when the Olympics was still a dream for London. This year it’s actually happening. A further short-listed candidate is Helena Morrissey, who chairs the 30 Percent Club, which has encouraged the promotion of talented women onto UK boards.

There’s also Irvine Sellar, one of the men responsible for the creation of the Shard.

Paul Marshall, general manager at headline sponsor Lexus said: “I’m very excited to find out who wins this category. It’s good to see that there’s a broad mix of people to select from, including the man behind the Shard and the man behind the Olympics.”

All will be revealed at the City A.M. awards dinner on 17 October. Tickets sell out quickly, so please reserve yours at

Stefano Pessina
Chairman, Alliance Boots
SEVENTY-ONE-year old Stefano Pessina, chairman of Alliance Boots, pulled off an admirable coup earlier this year when he sold 45 per cent of the pharmacy group to US retailer Walgreens for £4.3bn.

The deal involves Pessina keeping a sizeable shareholding in the enlarged group, taking a board seat at Walgreens and could well involve him staying around for quite a while.

But observers were especially surprised by the price Pessina achieved for his, and private equity group KKR’s, shareholdings. Many had said that Alliance Boots might have been an example of a group bought at the top of the cycle, at too high a valuation, but KKR has ended up making around 2.7 times its original investment. Pessina took a number of bold moves while he ran Alliance Boots as a private equity-backed company, including hiring former HBOS chief Andy Hornby as its chief executive. Hornby has since left and the business has done well in the economic circumstances of the time. Pre-tax profits in the year to the end of March 2012 fell from £676m to £660m but turnover was up 18 per cent to £23bn, good enough to satisfy Walgreens.

Helena Morrissey
Newton Investment Management
MOTHER of nine and chief executive of BNY Mellon-owned Newton Investment Management, Helena Morrissey not only oversees the logistics of a large family life and investments of over £47bn, but has made great strides regarding female equality.

Her efforts in encouraging women to seek more senior roles in the workforce have involved her setting up the 30 Percent Club, which aims to have women sitting in 30 per cent of boardroom seats in the UK by 2015.

When Marissa Mayer recently became chief executive of Yahoo while seven months pregnant, Morrissey retweeted Mia Farrow’s comment: “Let’s hope she inspires corps (sic) to create better options for all working moms.”

A Cambridge University philosophy graduate who arrived at Newton from Schroders 18 years ago as a bond-funds manager, Morrissey is confident her campaign for more women on boards will carry on making an impact. She thinks 20 per cent representation of women on FTSE 100 boards is achievable by the end of the year and believes the 30 per cent target will be met by 2015. It was just 12.5 per cent when her campaign launched.

Richard Scudamore
Chief executive, Premier League
THE CHIEF executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, played a blinder at the end of the season.

With many industries in the doldrums, especially consumer sectors, Scudamore negotiated a bumper television contract for three years of domestic live rights broadcasting.

The emergence of BT Vision as a rival to satellite operators BSkyB and ESPN helped bump up the price for live football to around 70 per cent ahead of the previous deal.

Scudamore, who worked in the newspaper industry for 10 years at Thomson Newspapers, has now been at the Premier League for nearly 13 years, continually confounding the critics by presiding over a consistently successful business.

Many have predicted the bursting of the football bubble but it hasn’t happened yet, with English Premier League football still a world class favourite.

Live Premier League matches are watched in up to 650m homes in more than 200 countries, with most admiring its competitiveness, excitement and atmosphere.

Irvine Sellar
The man behind the Shard
JULY saw the official opening of Europe’s tallest building, the 1,016 feet Renzo Piano-designed Shard on London’s south bank. The iconic “vertical city”, as Piano termed it, owes its existence to Irvine Sellar, a self-made property tycoon who over the past 30 years has been one of the UK’s foremost entrepreneurs active in the commercial property market. Sellar began in the rag trade and set up a clothes retailer known as Mates in the 1970s, which brought flared trousers to the high street. In 1981, after selling the 90-store chain, he turned his focus to property. His first venture Ford Sellar Morris collapsed during the 1990s property crisis, but undeterred, Sellar bounced back, founding Sellar Property in 1991. The group has a current portfolio of £800m and a further £3bn or so of projects in the pipeline. His ambitions for the Shard began in 1998 when he bought the original site in a £40m deal. Since then, Sellar has overcome the financial crisis, battles over planning and sceptics to deliver the project. Most agree the tower is an iconic addition to London’s skyline. As Sellar concluded at the inauguration: “We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us”.

Lord Coe
Locog chairman, Olympics 2012
A FORMER Olympic middle distance runner and a politician, Lord Coe has become the man most associated with London’s hosting of the Olympic Games this summer.

Lord Coe, who delivered an inspirational speech about the event at City A.M.’s inaugural awards two years ago, is chairman of the London Olympic Games Organising Committee (Locog).

During a time of economic austerity, Lord Coe has managed to ensure that all the venues have been completed on time and according to specification. Lord Coe vowed that the London 2012 Games would “reach young people all around the world and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games so they are inspired to choose sport, improving their lives as a result.”

It remains to be seen what sort of legacy is left behind for Londoners in the future but there can be no doubting Lord Coe went about his task with utmost dedication, and that his unflailing enthusiasm for the huge project has helped to ensure he got the Olympics message across to as many as possible.