Mudlark: Higgins could be game for Games

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David Higgins, the highly regarded chief executive of English Partnerships, could be the man to oversee the construction of the facilities for London’s 2012 Olympics, according to rumours in the property market.

The formal process of recruiting a boss for the Olympics Delivery Authority, who will oversee the spending of several billion pounds of public money, is to start as early as next month.

Higgins, former chief executive of Lend Lease, the construction giant that built some of the infrastructure for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has the right mix of public and private skills for the job.

He plays down the idea that ministers are keen for him to take it on. “I am perfectly happy where I am, I have two-and-a-half years left on my contract, I have not been asked to do it,” Higgins told Mudlark.

But he did not rule it out altogether. Higgins said: “I would consider it when it comes out to see how it was set up and may consider it. But I have not committed myself to whether I would apply at this stage.”

Headhunter Rockpools, run by Hamish Davidson – who brought in Bob Kiley as commissioner of Transport for London – is understood already to have begun the search.

Paying the piper

Cordia, a life sciences conference being organised in London in October by Reed Elsevier’s Reed Expo arm, is asking journalists for a quid pro quo. In return for a free pass, each has been asked to write an account of one session for the conference newspaper. Asked about the condition, Richard FitzHugh, Cordia conference manager, said: “It was only a suggestion; it wouldn’t be mandatory.”

Silver service

Hamilton Inches, the Edinburgh silversmith and jeweller, is hosting a magnificent exhibition of The Silver Trust Collection.

The trust was established in 1987 after Lady Henderson, wife of the British ambassador to Washington, was embarrassed by the poor quality of silver available in Downing Street during a visit by Ronald Reagan.

The trust – backed by private and corporate donors – has now commissioned more than 300 pieces of silver, which can be used by the prime minister and embassies on special occasions.

The latest addition is a pair of candelabra, designed and made by Hamilton Inches and paid for by Hiscox, the Lloyd’s insurer that specialises in art. Its chairman, Robert Hiscox, is a fanatical enthusiast for contemporary art.

Perhaps the most unusual item in the collection is a pepper pot engraved in 1987 by Malcolm Appleby that portrays Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as Adam and Eve. They are clutching not an apple but an atomic bomb, complete with mushroom cloud. It’s apparently a favourite of Tony and Cherie Blair.

Fevered pitch

Advertising agencies are used to clients changing the brief. However, next month’s four-way contest for the £70m-a-year British Airways advertising account will test the flexibility even of Soho’s finest.

The relationship between BA and its current agency, M&C Saatchi, is one of the most enduring in the industry and therefore seen as difficult to dislodge.

But the three agencies trying to unseat M&C – namely, DDB, BBH and JWT – will also now have to come up with ideas to minimise any damage to the airline’s brand from the recent debacle at Heathrow.

Having been BA’s agency through the post-September 11 downturn and two summers of industrial action, M&C can at least point to its record of damage limitation.

No wonder an executive at one of the three other agencies limbering up for the pitch says: “There are a lot of people here who cancelled their holidays this summer.” Since a decision by BA is not expected until October, they might want to keep September free too.

Keep a trim hedge

Duncan Hennes, ex-manager of George Soros’s flagship $8bn (£4.4bn) Quantum Endowment Fund, is back in the game.

With the support of his partners at Promontory Group, the US consulting firm, Hennes is launching a fixed-income hedge fund focused on G7 markets.

After Quantum, where meagre results were often attributed to its mammoth size, he is looking to raise no more than $250m by the year’s end.

Hennes says: “Hedge funds are getting so large, they can’t focus on the right risk-reward any more.”

Country madhouse

Peter Wallum, head of mergers and acquisitions at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, has had a spot of bother with an online booking at the Balmer Lawn Hotel in Hampshire.

He was booked at a much higher rate than that shown at reception; that was fixed. But his booking came for a Peter Waldouble-Bedlam, and the confirmation note began: “Dear Bedlam . . .”

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