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Weekly News

Power struggle at Battersea

Developer Parkview loses two more executives with leasing plans up for review

28.07.2006

Battersea Power Station developer Parkview International has lost its two top executives as doubts continue to dog the 2bn scheme.

It emerged this week that the chief executive and the chief financial officer of Parkview have both departed from the Hong Kong-backed firm.

The developer has now put the retail and leisure elements of the south-west London scheme on hold indefinitely because of long-running problems over its future funding.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of Parkview, who has been with the company for 18 years, is officially on sabbatical in the Middle East, but it is thought he will not return to his post. A statement on his departure is due in the next six weeks following his return to the UK.

Chief financial officer Michael Russell has also left. It is thought Roberts and Russell both fell out with Parkview’s owner, Victor Hwang, over the scheme’s progress.

At the same time, Davis Coffer Lyons and Donaldsons, respectively the leisure and retail letting agents for the scheme, were told to halt leasing plans last week.

Parkview had nearly 20 retailers in detailed discussions, but none could sign a final agreement without reassurance of when the scheme would start on site and complete.

However, it is impossible for the scheme to move forward without further funding from either an external party or debt secured from one of its banks – the Royal Bank of Scotland or Barclays – and the banks will not commit money until there are commitments from tenants.

No investors, however, will commit funds until there is a guaranteed plan of rental income and return.

The departure of Russell follows that of development director Mike Swinney last month. He was replaced by Victor Hwang’s daughter Vicky as commercial director.

A Parkview spokesman would only say: ‘The whole leasing strategy is being overhauled following the appointment of Vicky Hwang.’

Davis Coffer Lyons and Donaldsons would not comment. Roberts and Russell could not be reached.

Parkview is now pursuing a route of preletting and developing the residential elements of the scheme.

CB Richard Ellis is the office letting agent on the scheme. Mark McAlister, CBRE’s senior director in City agency, said: ‘We are waiting for clarity on the co-investors needed for the scheme, and until such time, we are taking a reactive rather than proactive approach.’

Parkview has owned the 38 acre (11.6 ha) site on the River Thames for 12 years and has spent more than 200m preparing plans for a mixed-use development called the Power Station, which could be worth 2bn if completed.

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