Dear Members and Friends,
Peter's ‘Letter from China’ squeezed out news about last week’s events, so I'm covering both them and the very active week here just passed. Together, plus news on new members, it’s been a great fortnight for all the membership.
Highlights last week were two important takes on technology; the ever thought-provoking Chair of BT, Sir Mike Rake and Manish Madhvani, founder of arguably the most significant technology investment bank in the UK, GP Bullhound. Sir Mike presented a realistic outlook on the impact Brexit could have on the UK telecoms industry; specifically skills, regulation and policy, whilst Manish's key themes focused on technology mega trends including augmented reality, AI and autonomous vehicles. Our colleague Ruari also lifted off with members for Cairo, on the Egypt Infrastructure Mission with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the UK Trade Envoy to the country. Ruari will report in next week's newsletter.
This week started with Alexandra attending the first Barclays National Manufacturing Conference, magnificently hosted by our lead Barclays member Mike Rigby at JCB in Rocester. Innovative and forward-thinking leadership was a big theme throughout the day, as well as the importance of small and medium enterprise to our economy. Barclays is a sector aligned bank, and Mike and his team spend a lot of time outside of the M25, visiting customers’ facilities. The day’s highlight was a tour of the JCB factory floor – it’s truly awe inspiring to see sheet metal come in at the start of the production line and shiny yellow JCBs roll off at the end.
Back in London a really excellent event on opportunities in Canadian infrastructure, the third in a series we have held for members with the High Commission to enable a close look at opportunities in the burgeoning Canadian infrastructure market with very senior decision makers.There are plenty of opportunities for UK project engineers, consultants, asset managers and operators. Some 40 members attended, and we are now forming a Canadian Infrastructure Working Group along with the High Commission. I am intending to attend the major CCPPP Conference in Toronto in November, with a view to take a delegation of members there in 2018.
Two CATBIG (Central Asia and Trans-Caucaus Business Interest Group) events were held this week: on Uzbekistan with some 80 delegates meeting the newly appointed Ambassador to the UK, HE Alisher Shaykov; and a round table session with the UK Ambassador to Georgia, Justin McKenzie Smith. One Belt One Road was once again a very strong theme.
Our newly established Middle East Access Group welcomed The Links Group to brief members on current business opportunities in the UAE and Dubai, with particular emphasis on how members could go about developing their business interests in the region after Brexit.
Smaller D Group lunches were held with Peter Andrews, The Bank of England's Agent for Greater London, looking at how The Bank's agents across the UK interact with and gather valuable insights from business. The Bank is a highly valued long-standing participant in the D Group's activities. There was also an ‘off the record’ discussion with the head of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green enjoyed by our members, which of course we can’t report on.
Next week we have a short interlude before a flurry of activity for the remainder of October. At the start of the week we will welcome a substantial inward delegation from Nigeria to discuss the creation of three new major cities, including a site visit to members BRE to explore new building initiatives first hand. We will also host the launch of the David Millidge’s exhibition on Tuesday evening.
Finally, a great domestic infrastructure addition to the membership, CityFibre, a fast emerging and very successful challenger force in installing high speed fibre across the UK. We look forward to welcoming the impressively entrepreneurial top management of CityFibre at future events.
I wish you all a great week.