The Business On... Geoffrey Spence, Interim chief executive of Infrastructure UK
Wednesday 27 July 2011
Infrastructure UK, what's that?
Only the Treasury body responsible for implementing the National Infrastructure Plan. OK, OK, you've not heard of that either. Around £200bn will be spent on infrastructure in sectors such as energy, transport and waste. The Government needs to prioritise this and find ways of attracting private-sector money to fund the programme.
So this bloke must be well connected?
Too right – check out Mr Spence's LinkedIn profile page, which shows a CV of senior roles at the Treasury, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. He's best known as a personal economic adviser to then-chancellor Alistair Darling during the banking crisis.Mr Spence focused on financial stability and helping businesses through the recession.
Not a fan of the banks, then?
Apparently not. A Whitehall source suggests that he was "unnecessarily thuggish" with the banks and as a result is not well liked in the City. The Square Mile would, though, do well to remember that Mr Spence oversaw a programme that made some very big firms a whole lot of money: he was the government's head of private finance initiative (PFI) policy from 2001-04.
So PFI's back, then?
Big time. Last week, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, announced £2bn of schools will be built under the PFI, which sees private companies finance the construction, maintenance and running of public infrastructure and paid back at a profit over along-term contract. The Government had to resurrect PFI to afford its infrastructure programme.
'Interim'? Why so?
The six-month search for a successor to James Stewart, who left IUK last year, was botched and abandoned in June. Worse still, the acting chief executive Andy Rose quit last week after just seven months in the role. A formal appointment process hasto take place, so Mr Spence gets only an "interim" title.
Surely the job's his?
That's what many people assumed when word first leaked of Mr Spence's appointment, before staff were even told of it yesterday afternoon. But the Treasury cannot just make a permanent appointment and the last selection process was formally shelved. Mr Spence is the overwhelming favourite, so credible candidates surely won't apply.
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