The Real European Vote?

There is more than one vote taking place, right now a radical much favoured sway in the UK towards Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM). Considering up to an estimated 340,000 new homes are needed to be built per year homes built by Local Authorities have fallen since the 1970’s when we are at our most needy time to house our population despite Housing Associations building more.

ACE Modular Construction have witnessed the past few months in particular tangible genuine interest in OSM, larger UK contractors wishing to be more competitive in their tenders reducing build time and improving quality. But those that are ‘tyre kicking’ developers & contractors unfortunately won’t be entertained by European or other OSM’s, without serious substance. Successful, proven cash rich & ready for serious financially led expansion overseas factories can afford to be selective who to engage with, carrying out detailed due diligence on each potential property development partner with suitable & sustainable pipeline. The fact is I am afraid to say that UK OSM’s do not have capacity anywhere near for large scale developments yet despite growth and yet lagging behind the rest of the world. Collaboration with worldwide supply chain is the key working with professional UK delivery partners sharing risk & profit.

          “UK contractors & developers are beginning to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to Off-Site Construction”          

  • Height Limitations:- with limited production capacity worldwide, for the creation of towers, London in particular with little space available, there is only one way to go…..and that is obviously upwards. The hunt is on for worldwide for OSM’s that successfully deliver multiple storeys and above working closely with experienced structural engineers, the additional critical part of the process. The majority of Baltic OSM’s have not built really much over 8-10 storeys but things are changing. In addition to these factories, most, if not all worthy facade companies are booked production capacity-wise for 4-5 years. Facade engineers such as our friends Staticus from Lithuania have made incredible progress the past few years expanding in to the UK, and other countries at a rapid rate.

“property developers will struggle to source capacity if they don’t approach OSM’s with a collaborative approach.”

  • UK Modular Factories are mostly small in comparison to the Baltics’, Poland, Germany, Spain, Turkey, America, China etc. In particular aside of existing successful competent mid-side OSM’s, new factories, thinking perhaps it was easier, are either seriously delayed towards full production, some up to double over budget but ultimately not able to commit to sufficient production capacity to make a serious contribution to the housing crisis. Time is passing fast, competition moving quicker than ever with Scandinavian & American investment amongst others entering the UK market. The key issue is when even built the UK factories (aside of the likes of Tide Construction, Elements Europe & Caledonian) do not have the experience compared to overseas for production roll-out for significant number of homes to be built with sustainable quality. Without suitable relations in place, as yet overseas, some contractors & developers naturally default to traditional build which is deemed less risky and sometimes understandable based on their experience. Those new larger handful of UK OSM’s that are making progress are still realistically 18-36 months away from creating over & above prototypes.
  • The Baltics’ alone have been producing modular homes for many decades to very high standards purposely for ‘high quality demanding’ Scandinavia and now more than ever deciding to consider the UK for export opportunities. Despite less attractive profit margins they are now appreciating sustainable growth makes more sense even taking in to consideration BREXIT. The UK construction sector is driven much by cost but realising fast the speed of build program combined with quality factory built modules is worth exploring further keeping clients & investors happy. Clear instructions now coming from the top so middle management downwards are set to fulfil their duty to act accordingly to adopt modern methods of construction (MMC) and on a major scale.

Guts, Vision and Sheer Momentum for 2019

Knap Hill

“The UK construction industry is one of the last to embrace modernisation, while we are all using smartphones, construction is still pretty much the same as it was during Roman times.” Mark Farmer, Cast Consultancy  

Momentum will clearly continue to grow in 2019 in Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM). With most UK housebuilders delivering at least one development with an element of modular construction. As the annual number of new modular homes is only standing at 15,000 it is difficult to see how we will reach the government’s target of 100,000 by 2020 without significant overseas support chasing the most suitable OSM’s.

Considering a shortfall of 4m homes it is time now surely accelerate not only our build methods technically but to encourage more property development debt providers to enter the market. As far as mortgages, over 25 High Street lenders are participating, coupled with Housing Associations & Local Authorities under increasing pressure to house people.

Modular is not suitable for all development projects but the use of state of the art Hybrid systems combined even with traditional build are proving to be more popular 

Challenges to overcome for overseas OSM’s;

  • Clients fear based on a bad experience or perhaps more like pre-conceived ideas (going back to War Torn Britain in the 1950’s) with existing strong relations in place with suitable supply chain which I consider the real problem here. Taking in to consideration rapid growth the UK’s OSM’s can possibly provide no more than 4% of the UK’s housing requirement. It is a ‘cottage industry’ albeit 4 relatively large (in UK terms) reputable volumetric firms and one large bathroom pod facility with capability for 20,000 units per year. So despite concerns from very few UK clients there is evidently huge potential for overseas OSM’s to prove themselves with expansion on the basis of sheer production capacity & absolutely decades of experience
  • OSM’s lack of investment – albeit high successful in their own territory they are not always in a position to fund cashflow to support projects over a certain financial level. With a weak ‘balance sheet’ in place, lack of experience locally without UK delivery partners it will be challenging. As the old saying goes “Nobody got fired for hiring IBM” so clients take the easy and somewhat sensible option to stick to far more financially robust proven OSM providers or revert back to traditional build
  • Upper hand being taken either by the client or the OSM, either which one considering themselves to be more important than the other, and not collaborating as necessary creating strong long-lasting partnerships – it’s all about collaboration!
  • Development funding issues due the nature of being ‘Off-Site’ until delivered on site Debt lenders slow coming to the table.

Swan Housing invested £100m regenerating Basildon’s former 1960s Craylands Estate, which the provider is delivering in partnership with Basildon Borough Council and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA). They say their factory will be capable of producing around 300 homes per annum using cross laminated timber (CLT) when at full capacity. Swan has a development pipeline of 3,500 homes.

I’ve produced a series of blogs on OSM on LinkedIn, see one of my last of 2018

The Earth Is Round, Pigs Don’t Smell……And Why The Word’ Prefab’ Is Still A Barrier To Off-Site Construction

The Earth Is Round, Pigs Don’t Smell

We didn’t always know that the earth is round, and pigs didn’t smell. But in the UK, we do know the word ‘Prefab’ has brought instant negativity for decades, reminiscent of the deliverance plan to address the UK’s post-Second World War housing shortage, some made of wood, some made of pre-cast reinforced concrete and poorly built, resembling perhaps your Grandfathers old shed, to last just 10 years in operation. Yes, just 10 years, they were never built to last folks albeit we have some of the greatest engineers that ever existed.

Ladies and Gents, please let me speed up to the 21st Century.

Could I even be bold enough to suggest we drop the description as Prefab in the United Kingdom, and replace with OFF-SITE instead? Where often these modern methods are guaranteed for circa 60 years and built to exceptional high standards. The Baltics, Scandinavia, Japan and the USA have all mastered in differing ways what seems some Brit’s are still struggling to comprehend is a viable option to build on ‘mass scale’. The positives are obvious from quality, speed of build, to prevention of trades tripping up over each other on site and allows consistency in time and cost parameters established at the outset therefore greater control and less maintenance. Investors desire the fact that completion of the project is up to 50% quicker and more control over quality, after all its a factory-controlled environment, the traditionalist ‘Red Brick Brigade’ don’t wish to even think about all the modern methods available throughout the world which clearly work. At our last event, with our good ‘innovation led’ friends Mace Group, we conquered a few myths on Modular Construction joined by our forward thinking British based property developers, contractors, project managers, investors and architects guests. Our next event will focus on which mortgage companies are happy with modern-day Off-Site Construction and indeed the issue over attaining investors to invest in the first place to provide development finance (Equity&Debt). See here a project our UK Delivery Partner created that attracted 6 separate well known mortgage companies for 9 apartments. If the cost of money funding the project is good, combined with investors taking modular seriously, and lenders accepting homes to be mortgageable then we have a winner.

There are many solutions for faster quality build, all of which need to be considered very carefully including Volumetric and Panel Modular.

Residential and Office Tower Blocks in Modular are being built here in the UK up to 29 storeys, and growing, using different Off-Site methods available. One example by the developer Pocket Living click here is a truly ground-breaking project for the UK. Some projects may not suit modular if designed for traditional build already but where there is a will there is a way combined with starting the process far earlier with Modular in mind. We are currently tendering for thousands of Bathroom Pods, the remainder of each project is using other Off-Site Solutions and some traditional build even but purchasing pods to add value to the process. With one less big thing to worry about, the prevention of various trades tripping up over each other on a very busy complex construction site. For full Volumetric modular, where facade solutions go up more or less the same time as the modules this will save months alone when building, all suppliers including MEP, Groundworks etc suitably organised naturally.

And whilst a small handful of UK companies including an Insurance Company promising to “revolutionise housing” by investing in factory-built homes the exact completion time for the majority of these factories are yet to be revealed despite ‘bravado’ in the construction news and at conferences, still not proven nor able to deliver huge numbers of homes – they are well behind schedule that’s for sure and no homes completed as yet the UK is well behind. Modular will not solve the UK housing crisis alone, it needs much more serious investment, help from outside of our quaint well established Island and significant training to correct our dire skills shortage. Most homes are built by the big house builders who have their own preferred way of working with proven sub-contractors for many years which is understandable in a sense but where is the innovation? The solution is not only huge investment in factories and production lines, it’s a change of British mindset totally which requires confidence that future demand will be at least steady, which in the booming-and-busting British housing market is hard to find. Outsourcing outside the UK is evidently a faster robust solution where best quality proven Off-Site has been available for decades. We all welcome credible UK Modular Factories, there is plenty of room and we have already met 2 that are part of our key strategy moving forwards, we just wish there were a lot more significant serious players in the market that have facilities in full production now.

Our rough maths equates it would need 30+ mega factories to hit the governments ridiculous unachievable targets to build 1 million new homes by 2020 to help towards solving our Housing Crisis.

When I quote ‘mega’ I mean not British size factories as they are currently, they are dwarfed by what is available in the Baltics alone, we know at least 10 firms that can produce 80,000 square meters of homes each per annum. What is viable is working with our UK Delivery Partners to work seamlessly providing mass housing solutions working in collaboration, utilising our great British workforce, complimented with a foreign product which adapts to UK construction standards. The majority of enquiries we are currently getting the past 2 months are in India, Uganda, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Sweden, reliant on local partners, building absolute thousands of houses between them utilising our Off-Site Supply Chain predominantly in lightweight steel frame, and including an integrated structural system that is seismic resistant, thermally and acoustically insulated, and is based on a set of structural panels. Each element is made of a 3D structure in high resistance steel, defined by two flat meshes robustly interconnected by multiple perpendicular bars. The insulation plate is in the space between the steel meshes and has the specifications that are suitable for the project needs. This system is put together on site by means of the application of two layers of micro concrete of a pre-determined thickness, either by pneumatic spraying or by pouring it into the formwork.

We encourage our worldwide supply chain to collaborate to provide solutions inc; Shower Enclosures & TraysCustomised Ergonomic FurnitureResidential and Industrial Garage Doors, even ICT Solutions and Smart Water Meters.

We commend, amongst others, our Nordic cousins for expanding our thinking on ways of providing alternative build methods, that so we now have a dedicated section on our website #modular #off-site construction #scandinavia #houses #dwellings #efficiency #investment

7 key initial key steps ACE Funding consider introducing Small & Mid-Tier UK Property Developers to our Funders

Mitigating risk when considering introducing a Property Developer to our Funder connections includes;

  1. The Developers we work with are absolute experts at what they do. This may sound obvious but it is concerning the amount of people out there that think they are professional property developers and don’t have the experience to deliver a project for a variety of reasons a. limited experience b. ‘real money’ to contribute (circa 10%+ of the Equity requirement) c. lack of a robust sales strategy (exit). d. an ‘attitude’ that will upset experienced real estate funders – the ability to adapt to different cultures and to stay calm. Think long term and don’t upset people that don’t require upsetting. We know our funders, their likes and dis-likes, but all of us need to work together in a partnership to achieve our mutual goals and work as a team. With a contract in place KPI’s have to be stuck to or else penalties arise but both of course parties have to deliver their end of the bargain. Everyone’s reputation is at stake here.
  1. They know their markets and locations inside out. Again obvious but the Developer must know their area they are developing like the back of their hand and also have necessary contacts in place with planning departments, contractors etc. Live it, breath, eat and love the area they are developing, it’s all about being passionate about what the developer is creating and to be able to sell the dream. Anybody can spot a development site, the real work is securing that site at the right price with sufficient potential, adding value and achieving the best possible outcome for all.
  2. They have an excellent track record of delivery and generating profit for investors and well respected. If not then we don’t stand a chance of getting them funded. They need to be realistic with their Exit/Sale of the asset(s) and not aim to break world record sale prices in that area, that is one sure way to lose a potential funder and what if the market changes/dips? Be prepared to inject your own ‘real money’ sweat equity does not cut it, funders will expect you to feel pain also and it get’s you the Developer a better deal on the profit split arrangement.
  3. They also know the exit (or exits) before they even start. A critical factor but not every developer considers an Exit, they just build and pray the assets will sell – not the way to go! ROI, Delivery, Exit model….hold or sell? ‘Burn rate’ on the capital?
  4. They also take the right steps to minimise planning risk. Risk mitigation is key, the more experience the Developers have with planning departments the better, it is a specialist skill set which can only be learnt after many years experience creating value added when it comes to the final product. Some Developers get it wrong, thinking they are unique in their approach for example ‘spacial planning’, building something which they like and are convinced is the best thing since sliced bread but the general public won’t appreciate, wrong town, wrong area, not fit for purpose and do not take in to consideration who the end buyer will be, are they elderly, young, with children, close to public transport, noise issues and will the property be in keeping with the area and stand out like a sore thumb which they think looks cool but is clearly so wrong? We all know and hear of Developers out there with assets that just won’t sell in what has become a sticky market of late, several price revisions going downwards……OUCH desperate times, therefore credibility lost in the market place is a disaster and word spreads quickly in this day and age of social media etc.
  5. The Developer needs to position him or herself appropriately presentation wise. Just one example is leave the flash car at home when arriving to meet the funder (or park it up the road where it cannot be seen), be low key and ever so humble, monitor your social media promoting your lifestyle if you are aiming to put in as less as possible as a contribution. Again word travels quick and checks can be carried out, promote your success but take it easy don’t flaunt it and by being humble you will probably get a better deal for yourself most likely (at least half of our funders are self made and came from nothing). Funders are most impressed by Developers that plough profits back in to their company’s and indeed get the financial appraisal right from day one not making amends to make the funder happy which are unrealistic to achieve. Make the funder feel special, again think long term with this joint venture and give the funder value, try to embrace their ideas that make sense, work closely, become one and revolutionise your life and your families for years to come. Keep ‘grounded’ always and consider ‘their culture’ and way of working not just your own.
  6. We want to work, as do our funders, with genuine, hardworking, honest, loyal people with standards, morals and ethics. This is a partnership and life is too short as they say so work with people we like is our motto.

As I say just some of the things we consider when working with Developers.

A Very Happy New Year to you all and here’s to a safer 2017

Happy New Year

Welcome back to work for those that do and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Break for those that celebrate! I had the pleasure of taking my friend Olwyn for Christmas lunch with my family. Last year Olwyn, who lives close by to me at my London home, said her Christmas was rubbish, I said I would never allow that to happen again. At 88 Olwyn is perhaps one of the most interesting people I have met, her once privileged lifestyle since a young age coming from an Aristocratic family fascinates me, including living opposite the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York throughout the 1950’s then losing her wealth at Lloyds of London in the 1990’s. I get to look after her now her ‘chips are down’ and my reward is that I can sleep at night knowing I helped make her Christmas the best in 20 years since her beloved husband passed away.

With regards to business I am looking forward to what will be let’s face it a very interesting year, foreign investment coming our way for major UK Property Developments including Student Accommodation, Shared Living, PRS, Commercial and Mix use via our business

We started the year very well with our business managing to sell a block of apartments, let’s hope this will continue for what could be our best year yet. Despite the potential serious issues we are yet to face with BREXIT I am very positive for the time being for all our businesses, only time will tell of course but there are opportunities with any uncertainty.

I wish you and your family a healthy, prosperous and safe 2017!


48 years in the making, it’s my Birthday and the launch of a new service, sorry it’s taken so long

Don’t mistake me for loving Birthdays at my age I just love waking up alive! A quarter of a century burning the candle both sides I do push it sometimes. 

As a networking junkie these 25 years please allow me the honour on my birthday to present to you our new service from our company Endorse in Me before I spend the day relaxing with my daughters and family. We are launching a unique high level business and lifestyle service for selected (pre-screened) professionals that require high level fast track support in business and socially

Rest assured 8,700 connections on LinkedIn (many built previously over 25 years) has nothing to do with it, in a world that is all about preserving reputation you will appreciate we are very careful who we introduce to who, we are extremely protective about our network. Understanding is built, then we seamlessly make appropriate like-minded introductions which will benefit each party.

Meanwhile is experiencing rather interesting times since BREXIT with an influx and increasing investment in to our residential UK property developer partners. Bringing investment in to this great country is our life and ultimately providing affordable living to our nation. With Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) on a rapid increase here we are launching from the last quarter onwards, in addition we are on the looking to connect ‘Principal to Principal’ looking to dispose and purchase genuine off-market yielding commercial assets across the UK. launched back in to the UK after 14 years away in the South of France providing a bespoke residential and commercial property service here in London for those looking to invest in UK property. It’s a personal customer experience not automated. launched nearly a year ago now which summarises my business interests and previous life.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by great people, my business partners, friends and family. 

Enough about me!

Celebration aside I am interested to hear about your experiences post BREXIT and how you think the economy is heading? I meet such a variety of interesting people from all walks of life (Billionaires, Millionaires, Family Offices, Private Equity) who’s views are proving to be polar opposite. One said “this is going to be the most amazing period in British history” closer to home I hear “Richard prepare yourself for one hell of a recession” and watching the TV last weekend I see my connection here on LinkedIn, fellow entrepreneur Touker Suleyman says we are in a recession already….interesting times for sure as the UK Trade deficit widens according to a thinktank.

‘With the prospect of low interest rates for longer and further central bank stimulus measures, along with a little more stability in the oil market ahead of a forthcoming Opec meeting, stock markets moved higher once more. Banks were also in demand as the post-Brexit blues wore off and a UK competition inquiry was less arduous for the sector that it had feared. Even signs of a slowdown in the UK economy from the latest NIESR report did not dampen the enthusiasm.’ (source; The Guardian Newspaper 9th August 2016) 

Listen, have a great summer everybody with your loved ones and please don’t remind me in 2 years I am 50. 

Think Long-Term Not Short

We are all guilty of it at some point in our careers not spending as much time deserved on forming solid business relationships albeit not intentionally always. Of course it is all about time and exposure to business and the sheer experience that comes over the years of doing ‘real deals’ which tells us to stop/think and act strategically. On the basis that ‘actions speak louder than words’ sometimes I personally I use to put a little bit too much trust in to people I am only human. So much time is wasted on bad deals the older you get the more experienced you become to say NO as quickly as possible to an opportunity that could not only cost you and the company your reputation but also waste an enormous amount of time – bad news always travels fast and the world is getting smaller.

I am yet still perplexed at the amount of people in business that consider themselves professionals in this field of property but still act on the basis of making a ‘quick buck’ with such a short term view, I am sure you know a few yourselves that command absolutely huge fees and expect to do as little as possible passing that buck – churn and burn. The countless joker brokers in this business are relentless at sending deals they really don’t have the first clue about, we call them the ‘cut and paste merchants’ eager to get the opportunity off of their desk. The ability to understand why a good deal is a good deal is critical when dealing with any assets, looking at the business case clearly, understanding the deal inside and out as much as possible and not just taking somebody’s word for it. What is the risk? Is there an exit strategy and what is it? Would you invest if you had the funds and why exactly? Where is the value added? Etc.

Surround yourselves with experts that support you in your quest to remain as professional as possible, a polite quick no can save stress and allow yourself and your teams to concentrate on what really is important by not spreading yourself too thinly which we are all as I say guilty of, we learn the hard way naturally over the years to work smarter not harder. None of us have enough time to waste dealing with these jokers and also at the other end the buyer could appear in the first instance as a tire kicker, it’s a fine balance as the kicker could be just cautious and experienced, we all know when we are dealing with the real deal, when they do come consider the value they can bring to your business, your wellbeing, your future and you may have just one chance to make it work. Life changers we call it internally here at ACE Funding, they come perhaps every 10 years?

It is all about relationships (as my father taught me at a very young age when I use to visit print factories at the weekend with him) and the rest is BS he still says to this day. Of all the mentors I have had I still need advice, I relish the fact of building more meaningful relations in business but even if I don’t do business you can never have too many friends right? So the moral of the story is think long term, breath and take your time to do a better job, take advice from those that know how but don’t burn bridges ever as you could be missing out big time. Don’t limit yourself, think big yet realistic and use your personality to build relations, on the basis of trust works well for any relationship working closely together strategically and in most instances discreetly protecting all parties. Life is about learning and without mistakes we don’t learn.

The Best And Worst of Post BREXIT – My Personal Perspective

The UK and London speci­fically has long been a favoured investment location for individuals and institutions. We (ACE Funding/Interestates Europe) believe post the BREXIT vote on 23rd June 2016 that the volatility in world markets and politics will mean informed individuals will look at the fundamentals; on this basis the UK compares very favourably. No one knows the outcome but the opportunities to assist in providing those hoovering up yielding assets is keeping us extremely busy with discounts up to 20% for Billions of pounds’ worth of UK assets available and growing fast. My focus in business like many other business owners is about feeding our economy and I am proud to be in what is arguably the capital of the world dare I say. The UK punches well above its weight and for such a small island it is incredible what we have achieved however our government and policitian’s don’t so us any favours at the best of times more recently. We are taking a leap in to the unknown so the next few years will be challenging, will we ‘do a Norway’ joining the European Economic Area paying about 83% as much into the EU budget as the UK currently does. Brexit would allow the UK to negotiate its own trade deals with non-EU countries. On the basis we are small the UK would have far less bargaining power than the EU. Let’s see how things develop now that we have a new Prime Minister and once the summer passes.

The worst experience;

I bumped in to a group of friends at a local restaurant bar in Chelsea, one lady was clearly ‘celebrating’ that she had her country back. I couldn’t resist to quiz her to ask what she meant exactly fearing I had entered in to the wrong conversation “Well my father fought for this country” I replied so did my grandfather and every other member of my family (at least 3 deaths) sorry I don’t understand your point? Do you want to go back to a 3-day week in the 1970’s, do you want to go back to just after the 2nd World War struggling for years after with Government Food Rations? Or to the days when we had our Empire even? Is this about Nationalism? Have you considered your viewpoint is not exactly conclusive or adding much value with our position within the world? Can you celebrate something more substantial? Moving on swiftly I said on the basis you don’t want any more foreign people in YOUR country it seems what do you propose as a solution? We, Londoners, happen to have the most amazing foreign work force which quite frankly without it London would not exist – in fact going back hundreds of years and more recently the Irish, West Indian’s, Asians and Middle and Eastern Europeans to mention a few. The conversation ended. Should I have stooped to her level and retaliated further and said ok so not more foreign construction workers because you don’t want them here to take our British workers jobs, let us outsource our property development work to Modular construction companies abroad and save a lot of time, money and indeed to keep the local authorities and residents happy with far less disruption – therefore my company and investors would gain considerably and our British developer partners would lose out clearly. I am sure you agree people like that are not worth the energy and our focus is to keep our country in work and hold a more than reasonable respected position within the world. By all means come up with constructive viewpoints which there are many, albeit I voted to stay in I do understand some of the merits of being OUT. What I can’t abide the racial opinion of some bigoted individuals leaving the EU which have featured heavily in our media including racial attacks.

The best experience;

Meeting our funders who see post BREXIT as a unique opportunity to do business in the UK due to a variety of obvious reasons including the value of the pound and the property fund’s offloading yielding assets at a rate of knots. We are incredibly busy whilst at the same time none of us know how long this good fortune will last with no clear strategy from the government. ACE Funding are making hay whilst the sun shines but like everyone else we don’t know what the future holds, we remain positive looking forward to re-negotiating our place in Europe and the World. Our very good friend M.Ron Wahid, Chairman and Chief Executive officer of Magellan Investment Holdings, an Anglo-American investment holding company contributed a really interesting article in USA Today July 16th 2016.

Despite the doom and gloom, Brexit is an opportunity for American businesses. While Brexit may prompt the flight of some financial services companies from London, Britain’s tradition of democracy and its belief in business as the driver of growth, combined with the weakening of the pound sterling, should prompt many others to stay.”

Mr Wahid goes on to say “For American companies, there is a diplomatic advantage to staying in Britain. Brexit may well serve to strengthen U.S. relations with Britain by formalizing a trade agreement that gives American companies an advantage. After all, Britain shares many more characteristics with the United States than with its European neighbors, including cultural norms and the belief in capitalism as the driver of economic success. A trade agreement would not be di cult to develop between the two allies.”

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – Muhammad Ali


“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – Muhammad Ali

Yet another one of my heroes in life has passed, a truly inspirational man who made such an impact on so many people’s lives, my thoughts are with your family Muhammad Ali RIP. He stood for so much; equal rights, the opportunity to make something of our lives, the list goes on. My favourite tribute Michael Parkinson;

“He was the most extraordinary man I’ve ever met, and I’ve met a few”

Michael Parkinson has paid tribute on Sky Sports News.

The first time I met him, he walked across the studio floor towards me, and first of all I was struck by the grace and elegance of his movement, and the size of him. Then I became obsessed by his hands – he had the longest fingers of a boxer I’d seen. They were the fingers of a concert pianist rather than a pugilist.

He was the most extraordinary man I’ve ever met, and I’ve met a few. He didn’t have any reservations about behaviour, and what he should or should not say. So what you got was raw: he could be funny, nasty, aggressive. He was a package you could not predict.

The nicest thing that’s ever happened to me in television was when his family came over with the Ali exhibition earlier this year. We had a call from them saying that he loved to watch the Parkinson interviews on YouTube. He would point and say, ‘Watch this, I get him here’, and all that. They asked if we could put together a compilation on disc to save him going on YouTube. Those interviews defined my career in many ways.

His charisma was palpable. You were sitting with a guy who was box-office. He could sell tickets – and sell himself – better than anybody else I’ve ever met. And he couldn’t stop talking. It was never an easy ride with him, but my word it was a fantastic experience”



I am no way a political animal but intelligent enough to take an active interest whether it makes sense to leave the EU, I am proud to be European and well as British. For Outers, leaving the EU will allow Britain to re-establish itself as a truly independent nation with connections to the rest of the world. To Inners, Brexit would result in the country giving up its influence in Europe, turning back the clock and retreating from the global power networks of the 21st century. What I am hearing from our investors for they are very concerned and slowing up on commitment before which is understandable as we experience with the Scottish Referendum. Those I have spoken to really don’t want us to leave, my heart tells me we should but my business head say’s absolutely no. I can see by leaving we shall also have more control over who enters the UK therefore reducing the threat of terrorism but then again being part of the EU we have access to records to avoid those entering. France said recently that there would be “consequences” for Britain if it left the EU? I can actually see both sides of the argument having spent time speaking to some very convincing people on both sides including my friend Mike Livesey who presents a very strong case to leave.

A study by the think-tank Open Europe, which wants to see the EU radically reformed, found that the worst-case “Brexit” scenario is that the UK economy loses 2.2 per cent of its total GDP by 2030 (by comparison, the recession of 2008-09 knocked about 6 per cent off UK GDP). However, it says that GDP could rise by 1.6 per cent if the UK was able to negotiate a free trade deal with Europe – ie to maintain the current trade set-up – and pursued “very ambitious deregulation”.

What is your view on BREXIT? What does your heart tell you versus your business head? In or out?

Warm regards