WHAT A LEGACY!

On 20th November, LEGACY was chosen as the preferred bidder for the Dome. News of the government's decision came in a parliamentary written answer from Hilary Armstrong, the local government minister. She said: "Legacy has been awarded preferred bidder status because they have confirmed that they will resolve all outstanding contractual issues within an agreed timetable. Negotiations will continue and if all goes well we expect to exchange contracts during February. Progress will be reviewed regularly."

An excited Charlie Falconer said "Though much work has to be done before negotiations can be completed, Legacy's plans offer a high-quality, high-tech and exciting future for the Dome, for Londoners and especially the people of Greenwich." Bourne said that his company's creation would "become a real symbol of Enterprise Britain. We have worked very hard over recent months to satisfy the very demanding requirements put before us by English Partnerships ... and I am pleased that we can now move on to the next stage."

Apparantely the decision was delayed while the government investigated Legacy's plans. It wanted to ensure that the company had the financial and managerial capability to deliver. However, the government's financial advisors are still saying that it could get more money by selling the site and demolishing the Dome, so why are the government taking the least-value option ? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Robert Bourne, who heads up Legacy, has been a very generous benefactor to Labour and stands to make a killing if his dot-com business park succeeds ?

English Partnerships is understood to have serious concerns about Legacy's proposals for three reasons: its arrangements for debt and equity funding; the fact that its named backers, including BT and Sun MicroSystems, have not agreed to take space in the science park; and concern over what will happen to the Dome's fabric if Legacy constructs office-style structures under it.

THE LEGACY BID

The Legacy consortium, will turn the Dome into 'Knowledge City', a high technology park for business startups. The company talks of creating an "inspirational environment" within the business centre. The four sectors which will initally be represented there are biotechnology, e-commerce, telecoms and wireless applications. Its estimates are that 14,000 jobs will be created by the park.

There would be "a layout of structures ... based on successful town planning in hotter climates," says the official submission. "The main buildings will enclose streets and piazzas with spaces for shops and restaurants." The Dome's canopy will remain to keep out the rain, but some parts will be replaced by transparent panels to give enough light for trees to grow. Workers will get about in "Dome buggies". The plan is to create a self-sufficient "tech town". Offices will be built out of lightweight structures, so business can grow easily, but with the high casualty rate in e-business, it also means companies could disappear almost without trace. There are plans to attract support industries such as venture capitalists, legal and financial advisers.

There may even be a hotel and residential park within the Dome (now that would be a desirable London address!), and a running track around the 1km perimeter.

The government's agreement with Legacy is complicated. It will share in the profits if rents achieved on the development site pass pre-set levels and will receive ground rent on the Dome. It will receive further cash depending on the scale of planning consent. Developers put the value of the land alone at at least 300 million, Bourne bought the Dome for around 125 million. The government will take a share of the profits if Bourne sells to a third party. Bourne calls these "anti-embarassment clauses".

The following links are to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport concerning Legacy's original submisison to purchase the Dome in June, when they were rejected in favour of Nomura.

Memorandum submitted by Legacy

"Assessment of the Potential Economic Benefits of the Proposal for the Millennium Dome by Legacy PLC by PricewaterhouseCoopers

Examination of Witnesses on Thursday 29th June - Robert Bourne, Tom Quinn, John Precious and Bruce Walker

THE LEGACY TEAM

Robert Bourne, who is Chief Executive, set up Legacy about 18 months ago with the sole intention of purchasing the Dome. Bourne was co-founder of Local London Group plc which was a successful operator of business space for the smaller business in London. The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange and was the subject of a successful take-over bid in 1989 valuing the company at 110 million. In 1990 he became joint chief executive of The Ex-Lands PLC, a fully listed property company. In 1997 he left the board of Ex-lands PLC when it merged with Marylebone Warwick Balfour PLC. Robert remains Chairman of Clubhaus PLC, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a fast expanding leisure company specialising in golf and health and fitness clubs.

Since the election in 1997, Robert Bourne has given the Labour party more than 60,000 including about 6,000 to the local Labour party party of Chris Smith. Bourne's wife, Sally Greene, was an actress and now is described as a "theatre impressario". Theatre gossips have it that the Bournes became so friendly with Chris Smith that they once house-sat his dog.

Alongside Chris Smith is Bourne's other New Labour friend, Peter Mandelson, who Green recruited onto the board of the Old Vic, which Bourne helped her buy. She has recently revealed how Charlie Falconer turned to Bourne to take over the Dome instead of reopening the process to find the highest bidder.

In the mid 1980s Bourne's wife launched an appeal fund to refurbish the Richmond Theatre. The appeal fell short and left the local council, who had acted as the guarantor, with an 11 million debt. A 2 million leisure, ice-skating and retail complex in Queensway is owned by one of Bourne's companies, Happy Badge Projects. Robert Davis, a local Westminster councillor, former lord mayor of Westminster and former chairman of the planning committee said of Happy Badge Projects that "I'm not aware of any other company that so persistently breaches the planning regulations". He doesn't think that Bourne is a suitable person to be taking over the Dome.

Sir Christopher Benson FRICS is Chairman of Legacy. As Chairman of the London Docklands Development Corporation, he was instrumental in the development of Canary Wharf. He was also previously Managing Director and later Chairman of the property giant MEPC, Chairman of The Boots Company, Royal and Sun Alliance, Allbright and Wilson and Costain plc. He is currently Chairman of Bradford Particle Design, an embryo techno-pharmaceutical company originating within Bradford University, Chairman of Mi29, embryo software designers of bespoke security architecture, Chairman of international property advisors GVA Grimley and a member of the advisory board at corporate financial advisers, Hawkpoint partners. Another professional Chairman, then.

Alan Banes is the Company Secretary and Non-Executive Director. Banes is a partner of solicitors Howard Kennedy and heads up the company commercial department. He has experience in corporate finance and substantial property transactions.

Tom Quinn is Deputy Chairman of Legacy. He is a consultant in investment banking and was a partner of W. Greenwell & Co., Stockbrokers between 1967 and 1986 when he moved to Samuel Montagu as a Director. Between 1987 and 1992 he was director of BZW after which he moved to Hambros Bank plc where he was a Director until 1995. In 1995 he set up Quinn Consultancy, providing a range of advice and consultancy on financial matters.

What the Legacy blurb doesn't tell you is that Quinn has two county court judgements against him for debts totally 29,000, one of which was issued as recently as March 2000. Legacy says these are "personal matters".

John Precious FCA, FCT, Finance Director was Group Finance Director of Wellcome, until 1994, and non-executive Chairman of the Cambridge based Celsis International plc from its floatation on the London Stock Exchange in July 1993 until 1997. He currently has a number of non-executive positions including Biocom SA, a Paris based automated analysis company and Manor House Group, a venture management company where he is Chairman.

Hugh Rosem, Commercial Director has spent most of his business life working in the property sector. Between 1982 and 1986 he was involved in mining and property in South Africa. In 1986, he managed the property division of the Overseas Commodities Group, London, prior to the business being acquired by Local London Group in 1987. Since that time, he has been involved with Robert Bourne in his various business activities.

Bruce Walker, Business Development Director has a background in corporate finance with an emphasis on property and smaller companies. He was with Johnson Fry from 1990 until 1997 when he joined merchant bank Brown Shipley. From the corporate finance team at Brown Shipley, Bruce was promoted to central management where he was responsible for the bank's acquisitions, their equity investments in smaller companies and the e-commerce strategy for the group.

Derek Pearce, who is the Resources Director, was Managing Director of Tioxide UK Ltd, a capital intensive chemical manufacturing company. He was appointed Human Resources Director of the Tioxide Group plc, where he also held a worldwide remit for environmental improvements. Between 1993 and 1996 he was Chief Executive of the Leeds Training and Enterprise Council. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of Celsis International plc and a Trustee of Raleigh International, the youth charity.

TREASURY HOLDINGS

Although Robert Bourne is head of the Legacy consortium, 80% of the money for the Dome is being put up by TREASURY HOLDINGS, an "unconventional" property company based in Dublin. So concerned were Falconer and his advisors about the ability of Treasury Holdings to finance the project, that they employed three sets of investigators to scrutinise it: accountants Deloitte Touche; property consultants Jones Land LaSalle; and law firm Berwin Leighton.

They would only give their approval when the Bank of Scotland, already the principal lending bank to Treasury Holdings, was persuaded to take a 5% stake in the bid, and provide the first 50 million construction loan. Sir Robert McAlpine's building group also takes a 5% stake. Bourne, with his management team, takes the remaining 10% stake. McAlpine will convert the inside of the Dome into a high technology business and science park, and the first phase will involve converting half of the 1m sq ft site. Bourne predicts he will need a total of 150 million to convert the Dome, and a further 250 million to finance the five-year development of the adjoining 15-acre site into housing and shopping centres. Outline consent has been given for 750,000 sq ft, however a fresh application is going to be made to double that.

Treasury Holdings is owned 50-50 by Richard Barrett and John Ronan. The government's advisers discovered that, until last year, Treasury Holdings had a staff of only two, despite it's position as one of Ireland's largest property companies. Treasury Holdings donates to Irish politicians through a JV company called Castlemarket Holdings. In 1999, they gave 1,000 to councillor Don Lydon to help his re-election campaign in an area where they needed planning permission to redevelop a shopping centre. Lydon had a consultative role in the permission being granted.

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