FORGET the West End, the eyes of the property world will tomorrow be fixed on Fulham, when the council decides the fate of its historic town hall.
The tender to develop the Grade II-listed site, which dates back to 1888, has been narrowed to a list of three developers – one retail, one residential and one leisure – who will tomorrow make their pitches to win over the borough’s planning team.
Good luck to them. But only one proposal, says Loh Peng, the Singapore tycoon behind the leisure bid, has a “long-term commitment to sharing [the property] with the community”. Peng’s property business Unlisted Collection specialises in creating hotels in restored heritage properties, and the man who transformed Bethnal Green’s civic building into the Town Hall Hotel plans to pull off the same trick further west.
If all goes according to the plans drawn up by Rare architects, a 45 to 50-room hotel will open by the first quarter of 2013, alongside three restaurants, a bar, a spa and themed internal courtyard gardens. Peng told The Capitalist: “I love the building, and I think it’s an opportunity to put the town hall back into the centre of Fulham’s social and economic life.”
SPREAD-BETTING tycoon Stuart Wheeler is celebrating in more ways than one. Firstly, because the UKIP treasurer and donor, who switched allegiance from the Tories in 2009, will be delighted by David Cameron’s breakaway from the EU.
And secondly, because Wheeler’s supermodel daughter Jacquetta has become engaged to Insparo Asset Management’s portfolio manager Jamie Allsopp, a former protégé of John Duffield at New Star, where he managed the heart of Africa fund.
With Duffield, UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Allsopp’s TV presenter cousin Kirstie Allsopp likely to be on the guest list, the business-meets-society wedding is gearing up to be quite some party. Particularly if an invitation is extended to Allsopp’s old flame Lady Emily Compton, not to be confused with Emily Crompton, the wife of billionaire property developer Christian Candy.
THE mood at the European M&A awards at The Savoy was not exactly upbeat. “The single best thing about 2011 is that it will be better than 2012,” flatlined Juan Senor, MC of the awards.
The past year “has not been the best time to make a lot of money for the bank”, agreed Credit Suisse’s head of healthcare investment banking Leopoldo Zambeletti – but “we still had a lot of business in 2011”.
Indeed – like Johnson & Johnson’s €14.3bn acquisition of Swiss-listed Synthes GmbH, which won the bank Corporate M&A Deal of the Year.
Zambeletti skipped away to a prior engagement to leave colleague Kelly Curtin to collect the award, while Morgan Stanley won Financial Adviser of the Year for deals such as SAB Miller’s hostile bid for Fosters, and Freshfields ended Linklaters’ four-year run as European Legal Adviser.
DLA Piper’s lawyers are usually on the ball. But there was a moment of confusion at the British Venture Capital Association’s annual dinner, when the legal brains were – albeit temporarily – taken in by the David Beckham lookalike hired as the evening’s entertainment.
“I am sorry my wife Victoria is not here tonight,” opened “David”. “It’s not that she doesn’t like venture capitalists, she just doesn’t like food.”
Reassuringly, guest speaker Sir Steve Redgrave, the Olympic rower, was the real thing.