Boggling at the prospect of CBRE King Sturge

The press coverage at the weekend in respect of CBRE buying King Sturge (Estates Gazette, 19 February 2011) has certainly got us buzzing in the Property Village. I think it is fair to say that I will never work in real estate consultancy ever again (one should never say never, of course, but I reckon it’s a racing certainty) and my first loyalty will always be with CB Richard Ellis, who were (and are) good to me. But I would be sad to see the demise of a great brand like King Sturge and I do hope that, if the stories are true, it will be handled sensitively.

I always had a great affection for the boys at King Sturge. And for the King Sturge culture. I regularly used to racket about with the likes of Peter Richards and Philip Papenfus and Tim Sonnex in Shampers and other disreputable watering holes of a Friday afternoon. Ah…those were the days and, indeed, all have moved on now.

The excellent shed shifting team baled me out more than once when I was running (sic) Park Royal (thanks again, Gus and Andy). Regular readers of this blog will know of my respect for Angus McIntosh who certainly Knows A Thing. And the very lovely Andrew Ludiman is, quite seriously, one of the finest regeneration practitioners I have ever met (and you’ll appreciate I’ve met a few); a uniquely talented player who has just delivered an exemplar project at the Barton project in Oxford. He and Jon Bull-Diamond are a formidable paring. Yes, it is a crack team, particularly well respected in the public sector, who are, of course, absolutely key at this point in the game (actually, King Sturge is possibly best-in-class in this arena) and I would hope and trust that my old alma mater will have the good sense to polish up the human assets. Big job to make it all fit though, very big job.

I once had the most amazing and excellent encounter with Malcolm King (not, you understand, that this is a unique experience, almost every encounter with Malcolm was extraordinary in some or other respect). It was when I was at Kent Thameside in the early noughties and I’d been argy-bargying with one of the local politicians (yet again) about how to stimulate the market in Ebbsfleet. I maintained I needed a commercial operator on my team who could go toe-to-toe with the developers and land owners, but I was defeated at the board by the self same politician, and it would seem they would never sanction the budget for consultancy support. Undeterred (ooh my dander was up!) I announced my intention to secure a secondee from one of the big agencies. Nobody believed I would manage this on no budget, but the very next day I flew out to MIPIM, rocked up to the Balfour Beatty party in their splendid villa, bumped straight into Malcolm King and propositioned him to find me someone, then and there.

Ian Lindsay (who was with me every step of the way) just couldn’t stop laughing. But Malcolm was nothing if not “can do” and, by the Thursday of MIPIM , the deal was done and I was to secure the services of a (very fine) surveyor who came in from King Sturge to support me and the team for several months although, sadly, as aficionados will know, we never made the breakthrough I was aiming for.

Malcolm just “got it”; he saw the potential and he liked to mix it. And he was ever a team player. I will always be grateful to him. But he is also somewhat larger-than-life, so the fact that he is now enjoying a well-earned retirement will present one less headache for CBRE in the possible eventuality of trying to juggle all the big beasts with all the big egos, should this extraordinary deal actually come off. Blimey! The mind boggles. 

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