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Business Comment

A deal to sharpen talons at the Bank of England


Outlook If the hawks on the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee needed any more ammo for their calls for a return to normality on interest rates, a deal emerged yesterday for them to lock and load. A City office block a couple of hundred yards down the road is being put up for sale by a bunch of private equity tycoons for £60m more than they paid for it just 18 months ago.

The Woolgate Exchange is one of the characterless blocks of glass and concrete which dominate much of the London landscape these days. But nevertheless, the US private equity group TPG and its partner Ivanhoe Cambridge (a Canadian native, like the Bank of England's Governor) are confident of finding a buyer at a huge price of £325m. They probably will, too.

You can see why their tails are up. A few months back they raised £164m to refinance the loans they took out to buy the carbuncle in what was one of the quickest loan approvals of its type for years.

Massive rises in asset prices, a rush from bankers to lend. All sounds rather familiar, doesn't it? Little wonder yesterday's minutes from the MPC recorded that, for some members, the case is growing for a rate rise.