Head of Invista in running for British Land top job

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Duncan Owen, chief executive at listed fund manager Invista Real Estate Investment Management, is a shock candidate for the top job at British Land, the FTSE-100 property giant.

Mr Owen is understood to have been "identified and approached", according to a source close to British Land, about the role and is even thought to have been asked if he would accept the chief executive job if it was offered. However, the source added that this should not necessarily be interpreted as a job offer, "as the situation is reasonably fluid".

It is understood that Andrew Jones, the head of retail at British Land, is still in the frame. Rumours persist that Toby Courtauld, the Great Portland Estates chief executive, could still get the job, even though he would likely ruffle feathers by bringing in his own team. Mike Hussey, London head at FTSE-100 peer Land Securities, has also been frequently linked to the role.

British Land, currently led by interim executive chairman Chris Gibson Smith, hopes to make an announcement before Christmas, though most property insiders believe that an appointment is likely to slip into January.

The company has been searching for a chief executive since October, when it was announced that Stephen Hester was to take over at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Mr Hester left on 15 November.

Property analysts expressed surprise that Mr Owen had been approached. Invista's market capitalisation is currently less than £100m, while British Land, which counts the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield among its many high profile assets, is worth around £2.7bn. Invista had £6.7bn of assets under management as of last month, and has offices in Guernsey and Paris as well as London.