Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Games demolition milestone marked

The 12-storey derelict building in Stratford, which was earlier a part of the University of East London, is being torn down by a 50-tonne machine.

Lord Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee, described the wrecking as "another milestone" leading up to the site's transformation.

The park will form the heart of London's Olympic Games in 2012.

There were a total of 220 buildings at the site, of which 106 have been demolished, the Olympic Development Authority (ODA) said.

Underground work

Lord Coe said: "This is another milestone in the transformation of the Olympic Park site.

"In the last year, much of the work has taken place underground on the power lines. Now, you will see an increasing amount of work taking place at ground level, as remediation and demolition gather pace."

The cleared site will form the link between the Olympic Village and VeloPark during the Olympics. After the event it will connect the regenerated area with land to the north of the site.

The Olympic Park will include the main stadium, an aquatics centre, velodrome, three sports arenas, a hockey centre, media facilities and the Olympic Village, in which 17,800 athletes and officials will be housed.

Once built, the Olympic Park is set to be one of the largest new urban parks opened in Europe for 150 years.

Guiding hand to make the most of the Olympics

BUSINESSES in Coventry and Warwickshire are being offered the opportunity to produce a guide to help other firms win London 2012 contracts.

West Midlands Business Council has invited the region's companies to pitch for a contract to design and produce the guide, which will then be distributed in the region.

The guide, which is targeted at smaller businesses, aims to assist bosses in winning the numerous lucrative contracts that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will generate.

There are already several ways in which businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire can look for 2012-related contracts and a new electronic brokerage service is expected to be launched in early 2008.

The guide will contain all necessary information for businesses to find out about contracts and the best ways to win them.

More than £25 billion of work is expected to be generated when the capital hosts the Games and several companies in Coventry and Warwickshire have already secured 2012 contracts.

The Coventry and Warwickshire 2012 Partnership, a collaboration of private, public and voluntary organisations, is the local body working towards maximising the opportunities arising from the 2012 Games.

David Hartley is chairman of the partnership's business sub-group and director of business development and finance at the Coventry and Warwick-shire Chamber of Commerce.

He said: "Coventry and Warwick-shire's business community can reap huge rewards from the London 2012 Games.

"Bidding for 2012 work is a highly competitive field and many companies feel daunted by what they fear is a complicated process, but it is not as difficult as it may seem and there is plenty of help available.

"The Coventry and Warwickshire 2012 Partnership, working with local partners such as the Chamber and regional partners like the West Midlands Business Council, will make every effort to ensure companies feel confident in bidding for work.

"We all want to see the region maximising the opportunities available."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Olympics chief urges 2012 action

The International Olympic Committee has urged the organisers of London 2012 to get on with their preparations.
IOC boss Jacques Rogge told BBC Sport that London "is doing OK" but must focus on delivering the Games on time.

"We urge them to work as soon as possible and to prepare today for the unforeseen of tomorrow," said Rogge.

He also said the IOC had "no regrets" about giving the 2008 Games to Beijing despite recent international criticism of China's foreign policy.

Rogge stressed that the Swiss-based IOC was "basically happy" with the progress in London and remained optimistic a permanent tenant for the Olympic stadium will be found.

"That would be something that would please the IOC very much and we are very keen on that," he said.

"We know that Seb Coe and LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) are working very hard to find a solution."

The current plan is to reduce the stadium's capacity from 80,000 to 25,000 in 2013 and use it as a multi-sport venue with athletics and community facilities at its heart.

But that plan depends on a football or rugby club becoming an "anchor tenant" to subsidise the stadium. So far that has proved to be beyond Coe and his team, partially because the post-2012 plans do not include a roof for the majority of the seats.

Premiership club West Ham have already said they are not interested in moving to Stratford as the capacity is too small, and Leyton Orient are reported to be concerned the capacity is too high.

A shadow has been cast over preparations for the 2008 Games in Beijing because of calls for a boycott over China's foreign policy.

China has been condemned by human rights campaigners for its links with the Sudanese government which is embroiled in a four-year conflict with rebels in Darfur.

China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil output and is the African state's biggest arms supplier following a 25-fold increase in weapons sales between 2002 and 2005.

International experts say 200,000 people have died and 2.5m have fled their homes in Darfur since the conflict started in 2003.
The Save Darfur Coalition - an umbrella group of 180 religious and human rights groups - has accused China of taking an "ambiguous" stance towards Sudan.

China has also been attacked for its continued support of the military regime in Burma, where recent pro-democracy demonstrations have been crushed.

The Chinese government only agreed to back a critical statement from the United Nations Security Council to Burma when the threat of an Olympic boycott was raised by campaigners.

Rogge said he understood why human rights groups used the Olympics to apply pressure on China, but disagreed with those groups' criticisms of the IOC itself.

"I respect them for what they're doing. It is absolutely legitimate that they get the most from the Olympics," he said.

"But where they make an error is to criticise the IOC for not solving the problems.

"Why would we be able to succeed where generations of heads of state and governments who have come to Beijing have not succeeded? We are a sports organisation - there are limits to what we can do.

"Does that mean that we don't strive for human rights? No, of course we are in favour of human rights, and we've proven that many times in the past.

"But don't expect from the IOC what the IOC cannot do. The Games will contribute but the Games will not solve all the problems of the world.

"We gave the Games to a country that represents of one fifth of mankind. We gave the Games to a country that will change, that is changing. We have no regrets."

Rogge pointed to recent reforms in China's judicial, media and property laws as evidence that the Olympic effect was already being felt. He also praised the emerging superpower for addressing its poor record on child labour.

The 55-year-old, who sailed for Belgium in three Olympics, said he was also satisfied with the steps the Chinese were taking to tackle doping and brushed off concerns about Beijing's air quality.

A recent United Nations report was critical of China's attempts to improve the air quality in Beijing, stating that pollution was three times higher than the level recommended by World Health Organisation standards.

And on Friday, Beijing's weather office warned children and the elderly to stay indoors as heavy fog was exacerbating the city's air quality problems.

An IOC inspection team visited Beijing last week and admitted that pollution remained a concern but said it was confident proposed traffic controls and factory shutdowns would have a positive effect.

Rogge added: "If the atmospheric pollution is too high at certain times then we might consider rescheduling.

"But this is not exceptional for the Olympics. We have a similar situation in the Winter Games with snow. And it's the same with the wind and sailing, rowing or canoeing."


Friday, October 26, 2007

London Olympic flame to be carbon neutral

It is the enduring symbol of the Olympic movement, lit in the past by legends of sport including Muhammad Ali and the Australian gold medalist Cathy Freeman.

But with the globe facing the ever-growing threat of climate change, Olympic chiefs are increasingly worried about the environmental damage caused by the Olympic flame.

Now, in an effort to ensure London's 2012 Olympics are remembered as the "greenest" ever, organisers are exploring ways of developing a more carbon neutral flame which will be kept alight in a cauldron in the main stadium for the month of Olympic and Paralympic competition.

A spokeswoman for London 2012 said: " We want London 2012 to be a truly sustainable Games. Using a low-carbon fuel to light the Olympic flame and keep it burning throughout the Games is one of the many things we are looking at right now to deliver a 'green games'.

"The Olympic games and Paralympic games have the power to set agendas, and change behaviour, and applying sustainability principles to one of the most potent symbols of the Games will, we hope, help us do just that."

To that end London 2012 are now in talks with one of their major sponsors, the French company EDF, about finding an energy source which will reduce carbon emissions.

In the past, host cities have relied on high carbon based fuels such as paraffin to ensure that the flame, carried by torch bearers from the ancient site of Olympia in Greece, is visible during the day and at night.

But next summer's Beijing Games are set to be overshadowed by pollution concerns with the International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge warning earlier this year that some events may have to be postponed because of the city's smog.

With that in mind London say they are making environmental and sustainability issues one of the key priorities of the 2012 Games.

Earlier this week they announced plans to deter the 8million who will attend the event from using their cars. And next month London will unveil their sustainability strategy for the 2012 Games.

But Jenny Jones, a Green party member of the London Assembly, accused London's organisers of getting their priorities wrong and for failing to stick to targets they set themselves on renewable energy.

She said: "Every little helps but this really is a drop in the ocean. There are much bigger problems of sustainability to deal with."

2012 stadium cost rises by £216m
Larkham sets sights on Japan

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spectators for the London Olympics in 2012 will be banned from travelling by car

Spectators for the London Olympics in 2012 will be banned from travelling by car and forced to use public transport, cycle or walk, it has emerged.

According to the Times, only a small number of disabled people will be permitted to park in close proximity to car exclusion zones at event venues in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cardiff, Weymouth and Portland (Dorset).

The transport plan for the 2012 Olympics sees around 800,000 people amassing at venues on the busiest days, with personalised itineraries sent to attendees detailing how to arrive.

Plans for two giant park-and-ride sites on the M25 and M11 motorways are to be cancelled, the newspaper reports, and one lane in several key London routes will be reserved for some 80,000 members of the 'Olympic family' for around two months.

Dubbed 'Zil lanes' - after the lanes reserved for Politburo convoys in Moscow - these routes will be specifically for athletes, officials and media.

Talking to the Times, Hugh Sumner, the Olympic Delivery Authority transport director, said: "We have a very aggressive programme to make it the greenest games in modern times. We want to leave both a hard legacy in terms of infrastructure and a living legacy in the way people think about transport and about how they travel to sports and cultural events."

Mr Sumner added: "We want to accelerate the shift to public transport and cycling that we have seen in London in recent years.

"There will need to be traffic controls around competition venues. We will make it very plain to people that there isn't going to be parking."

China will strictly ban drugs in sport and step up censor

China's top sports official promised the country will strictly ban doping and assist the International Olympic Committee to host "clean" Games.
"China will strictly ban drugs in sport and step up censor," said Liu Peng, head of the State Administration of Sport. " Athletes involved in doping will be severely penalized."

Liu, a delegate to the week-long 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, said China pays close attention to anti-doping and has banned exhilarant in its sports law.

Liu said his administration and all its provincial branches have signed anti-doping contracts with their athletes.

The Chinese team to next year's Games will consist of 570 athletes, the largest ever in China's Olympic history, he said.

China sent a 300-strong team to the Athens Games in 2004.

In preparations for the Beijing Games, he said China is building a new testing base with a state-of-the-art lab and facilities. "Very soon we'll inaugurate a national anti-doping agency."

During a recent visit to China, World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound confirmed the country's efforts in fighting against drugs in sport and said China "stands as a model to the world".

Monday, October 22, 2007

2012 stadium cost rises by £216m

The Olympic stadium for the 2012 Games will cost £216m more to build than originally predicted, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has said.

While bidding for the Games the projected cost was £280m but since then the figure has risen by more than 77%, the new ODA chairman John Armitt said.

He said "inflation, VAT, legacy conversions and earthworks" had resulted in the escalation in expenses.

The budget for the Games was increased to £9.3bn by the government in March.

Costs 'in line'

Addressing London Assembly members on Wednesday, Mr Armitt said: "To suggest that the costs have doubled from the bid book represents a grossly misleading figure for the public.

"This figure represents a 2012 outturn cost which includes inflation, VAT, legacy conversion and earthworks.

"The bid figure was a 2004 figure which all the bidding cities were asked to give. Insofar as a comparison can be made with the bid book the figures are broadly in line," he said.

The designs for the 80,000-seat stadium will be unveiled later this month, he said.

After the Games the stadium will be scaled down to accommodate 25,000 people.

He went on to add that the final cost of building the 20,000-seat aquatic centre, which will include a wave-shaped roof, is still not clear.

"I'm not sure where we are going to finish up... the important thing is that it does the job that is required."

The bidding document said the aquatic centre would cost £75m to construct.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Heneghan Peng Architects to design Olympic Park Footbridge for 2012

Heneghan Peng Architects, with Adams Kara Taylor Engineers, have won the competition to design one of the key footbridges in the centre of the Olympic Park. The design competition, launched in May, was for multi-disciplined teams to design the footbridge located on the central pedestrian concourse in the Olympic Park. The footbridge spans 26m over the River Lea at a focal point between the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and Basketball Arena.

The planning and design of the bridge will integrate both Games and legacy use. During the Games the bridge will have a total width of 55 metres to accommodate increased spectator numbers. After the Games temporary sections of bridge will be removed leaving two narrower bridges that span either side of Carpenters Lock, a unique 1930's historic structure on the River Lea Waterway.

In June a six-strong shortlist of established designers, engineers and emerging young practices were asked to develop concept design proposals for the bridge and the immediate surrounding landscape in Games time and legacy mode. Their designs were assessed by a specialist design jury who selected the Dublin based firm Heneghan Peng Architects as the design competition winners. The shortlisted teams were assessed by a Design Jury comprising: Carl Ainley - British Waterways; Bob Allies - Allies and Morrison; Peter Bishop - Design for London; Sarah Buck - BSW Consulting, President IStructE; Ricky Burdett - ODA Principal Design Advisor; Jorgen Nissen - Bridge Consultant; Kevin Owen - LOCOG; Simon Wright - ODA Director of Infrastructure and Utilities.

A key requirement of the design is that its surface area has to be reduced significantly after the games are over. Heneghan Peng's concept designs were praised by the design jury for making the bridge a spectacle in Games mode by using the landscape for colour and activity followed by the transformation of the structure in legacy to leave two footbridges linked by a central blade-like walkway offering views over the river and Carpenters Lock. Removing the surface after the games will reveal a grass amphitheatre which will allow access between the elevated pathways and the waterway.

The design jury was particularly impressed with the way Heneghan Peng's concept designs brought together a design solution that worked for both Games and legacy. The short span of the footbridge gave Heneghan Peng scope to develop a more creative design than a usual bridge structure by using the surrounding landscape as a way of shaping the bridge structure itself.

The jury also praised the proposals to open up the Carpenters Lock area, creating new meeting spaces, views and links above and below the bridge between the river tow paths, Carpenters Lock and the upper concourse in the Olympic Park.

Directors of Heneghan Peng Architects, Roisin Heneghan and Shih-Fu Peng, said: "We are thrilled to have won this competition particularly after being faced by such incredible opposition. We hope that our design will form an important element within the spectacle of the London 2012 Games and as a striking element of the enhanced connections the Olympic Park will create in legacy." Other shortlisted firms included McDowell+Benedetti, Ron Arad Associates and Future Systems. Heneghan Peng Architects have a good track record in competition having won competitions to design the Grand Egyptian Museum at the Pyramids of Giza in 2003, and the visitor centre at the Giants Causeway in 2005.

ODA Director of Infrastructure and Utilities Simon Wright said: "The winning team impressed the design jury with their understanding of the need to plan Games and legacy together. Their designs will help us lock-in legacy now by designing a bridge that meets Games-time needs but which also leaves behind a striking structure in the heart of the Olympic Park for future generations to enjoy. The jury were impressed with all of the shortlisted teams but Heneghan Peng's designs emerged as a clear favourite and will help us ensure we continue to aim for the highest standards of design excellence across the project."

Olympic consultants cost £1m a week

Olympic consultants cost £1m a week
Fresh figures revealing the true cost of the 2012 London Olympics won’t impress taxpayers, but will hurt less if you’re one of the event’s self-employed consultants.

In a parliamentary answer, the government said The Olympic Delivery Authority is currently paying £1million a week to temporary, interim or contract professionals.

Bosses at the ODA spent £50.5m in the last financial year, while a further £10.7m was paid out on contracts within the first three months of 2007.

The figures fly in the face of assurances given by Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, who recently said only two contracts were agreed last year and none for this year.

They were uncovered by Tory MP Hugh Robertson, who has attacked the government for not factoring in the £60m spent so far on consultants into its budget.

He said: “The revelation that the ODA has spent over £60m on consultants already will raise very serious questions about the direction of the Olympic budget.

“Tessa Jowell has also failed to answer eight specific Parliamentary Questions about the budget. We need much greater clarity and honesty over exactly what is going on in order to restore confidence in London's Olympics.”

His comments come after figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show Olympic bosses paid 65 agency workers a massive £7,707,000 – about £118,500 each.

Coupled with the state’s admission that the budget for the event has leapt from £2.4bn to £9.3bn, these revelations help explain why 90% of Brits think the games will go over-budget.

Matthew Elliot of the Taxpayers Alliance, which commissioned the finding, said the costings of the London games make it a unique event in the event’s history.

“The 2012 Olympics are set to become the most expensive games in history,” he told The Daily Mail yesterday.

“Once consultants are brought in, costs rocket.”

The ODA’s latest vacancies include a job as a transport press officer for the games, commanding a £40,000 salary. The London 2012 Organising Committee is also looking for a creative individual who can coordinate final ceremonies in Beijing as a Production Project Manager; for an undisclosed salary.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Xinhua opens Beijing Olympics News Service

Beijing Olympics News Service
The Xinhua News Agency launched formally the Beijing Olympics News Service (BONS) on Oct. 8, 2007, to enhance its English language coverage of events and preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

The multimedia news service will be operational from Oct. 8, 2007, to Oct. 8, 2008. The BONS will provide texts, photos and graphics.

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games, the BONS will focus on the preparatory work of the host country and international athletes. It will also present China to the world, including its reform, opening-up and modernization process as well as the Chinese culture.

After the opening of the Games in August 2008, the focus of the BONS will shift to the actual events: the athletes, results, feedback from the participating countries and regions, and Olympics-related information.

Chinese games - 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Britain Warms-Up For 2012 With Lifesaving Champs

Saving lives is not an Olympic sport but one of the biggest sporting events in the world with lifesaving as its aim - bigger than the Commonwealth Games in fact and one that will help Britain to prepare for the London 2012 Games - has been awarded to Cornwall.

Never been to Cornwall? Put it on your list. It's fabulous, with a wild and windswept shoreline that offers some of the best beaches in Britain (the world, some would say but not if lounging in the sun is your thing) and will make a fantastic venue for the Rescue 2010 Lifesaving World Championships.

The event was awarded to the Fistral surfing beach in Newquay, Cornwall at a vote today in Oporto, the northern Portuguese city that lends its name to Port wine, among delegates of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS), the central body of national associations of lifesaving clubs and the governing body for the Rescue series.

The opening ceremony of the championships, over two weeks in June and July 2010, will take place at the Eden Project in St Austell, Cornwall, a place no-one should drive past when in that part of the world. Indeed, make a point of travelling that way to see the Eden Project. It's terrific.

Speaking at Fistral Beach, Jonathan Ball, President of Surf Life Saving Great Britain and Chairman of the British bid team, said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for Britain and the result of a lot of hard work by a top class project team. We can now open serious discussions with major corporations and funding organisations to establish the budget and put in place the infrastructure for the Championships and the wider promotion of water sport and lifesaving skills amongst the community.

'It is a unique opportunity for organisations to contribute positively to an ethical mission that will help to inspire young people and raise public awareness of a sporting challenge that recognises bravery, encourages selflessness, personal fitness and well being and service to the community. Aquatic sport is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and the highly challenging and visual Rescue 2010 Championships will offer international, national and local exposure to companies involved in sponsoring or supporting them.'

Britain's bid for Rescue 2010 was submitted by Surf Life Saving Great Britain (SLSGB) in partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The two organisations have signed a strategic partnership to develop volunteer beach lifeguards around the coasts of Britain and the World Championships will focus public attention on the campaign and the needs and values of lifesaving skills.

Andrew Freemantle, Chief Executive of the RNLI said: 'The award of Rescue 2010 to Britain will encourage the development of Britain's swimmers and promote water sports amongst the wider population, and young people in particular, as part of a healthy lifestyle. Volunteer lifeguards are essential to our plans to double the size of our lifeguard operations in the next five years. These championships will give a huge impetus to our strategic partnership with SLSGB to develop volunteer lifeguards on our beaches.'

The Lifesaving World Championships are held every two years to test the skills, stamina and courage of qualified lifesavers from local clubs throughout the world.

Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for London 2012, said: 'When we won the bid to bring the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to London, we hoped our success would lead to more top sporting events coming to the UK. This is a very good example - many congratulations to all involved.'

Expected in Cornwall are 6,000 competitors and officials from the life saving national teams and clubs of 55 nations, a greater participation event than the Commonwealth Games.

Britain's gold and silver world lifesaving medallist, Katy Whear, who is a Portreath Surf Lifesaving Club member and RNLI lifeguard, was delighted with the news: 'Holding Rescue 2010 in Cornwall could alter the perception of the country. I have met people in Australia who think we only have pebble beaches. Many of them don't think of Cornwall as a destination for the World Championships, and yet we can get awesome surf and we have some really good beaches. This will be a chance to show the world how great Cornwall is.'

The cost of hosting the Championships is estimated at around £6 million and will be funded from public and private sponsorship. The economic benefit of Rescue 2006 to Australia was estimated at more than £18 million, with approximately 40 per cent attributable to the local area of the games.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is patron of the Championships and the British bid received enthusiastic support from the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP, and opposition leaders, as well as Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Sir Roger Bannister, the first four-minute miler and now a world ambassador for sport.


Monday, October 1, 2007

London Games creates hurdles for building offices in the City

The spiralling cost of construction in the lead-up to the Olympic Games in London in 2012 is undermining City office development deals, a report will reveal today.

A shortage of skilled labour, soaring prices of raw materials and a growing number of Olympics-related projects have given the building industry huge bargaining power over developers in the pricing of new schemes in the capital.

Building cost estimates have risen by about 25 per cent over the past year. The surge in costs, coupled with the recent credit crunch from banks, has turned the City office investment market into a virtual dead zone since the end of July, with little prospect of improvement until the new year, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial property agency.

A total of £5.4 billion was spent on buying City office space in the third quarter of this year. While that represented an 8 per cent rise on investment in the previous quarter and 14 per cent more than the same period a year ago, all but about £350 million of deals took place before the start of August, Cushman’s figures reveal.

Since August, banks have tightened their lending criteria and are demanding far more upfront cash from potential investors – or they are not lending at all.

Meanwhile, the cost of building the foundations and shell for a City office block has risen from about £200 per square foot last September to £270 for a normal structure and up to £300 for the tallest skyscrapers, Bill Tyser, head of Cushman’s City investment team, calculates. Four years ago build costs would have been about £170 to £180 per square foot.

“People like to fix costs upfront and they are not being able to do so. The issue at the moment is that we are in a period where investors can’t get liquidity in the financial markets, so a lot of structured deals are not happening,” Mr Tyser said.

“What started this year off was a huge rise in the price of cladding and steel formation due to demand from China and India. Now we are beginning to see the impact of the Olympics building up. A lot of contractors are in command about what they want to do. Many are saying: ‘I do not want to do that – a City scheme – as I want to be in the frame for East London.’ So there have been really big build-cost jumps this year.”

City skyscraper projects with planning but still yet to get off the ground include Land Securities’ 20 Fenchurch Street, a 37-storey project rising to 160m (525ft) and dubbed the “Walkie Talkie” due to its concave shape. No decision will be made until next spring on a starting date for the building, including whether to construct speculatively, without a tenant lined up, or with a prelet in place, a senior company source told The Times.

Meanwhile, plans to build The Pinnacle, a 288m City skyscraper dubbed the “Helter Skelter” because of its twisted shape, still depend on securing the last slice of development finance. The site’s owner, an Arab Investments-backed offshore company, has been in talks for nearly a month to sign a definitive fixed-price construction contract with Multiplex, the company behind the delayed and overbudget Wembley stadium. It is understood that Khalis Affara, the managing director of Arab Investments, has signed only a heads of agreement with Multiplex, but a full contract is needed before the final construction funding falls into place. Construction is due to start early next year, with completion in 2009.

A start date has yet to be fixed for construction of New London Bridge House – in what will be London’s tallest tower at 310m – after the backers for the scheme, dubbed the “Shard of Glass”, confirmed this month that they were struggling to secure development finance. Talks are under way for a new investor, possibly the state of Qatar, to buy a one-third equity stake from Simon Halabi, the tycoon, while Credit Suisse is on standby to provide new finance.

The only significant Central London office deal to take place since August has been the £240 million sale by Legal & General of its Bucklersbury House site between Cannon Street and Bank stations, which in 2013 is destined to become Walbrook Square, the City’s largest new office and shops scheme in 25 years.

Questions have already been raised in the City over how the eventual buyer of the scheme, Metrovacesa, of Spain, will make a profitable return. Among those who balked at the prices needed to make it through to the final round of bids were Canary Wharf, the docklands developer.

Metrovacesa shot to prominence this year when it paid £1.1 billion for HSBC’s Canary Wharf headquarters, representing an initial yield - return from rent compared to price paid – of just under 4 per cent. Average City office yields have since shifted from about 4.5 per cent to 5 per cent, over fears of price falls.

Olympics 'will boost London property'
The U.S. might bid for the 2012 Youth Olympics

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