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CN briefing: Rio, Legal & General and Capco

It’s an unpredictable world out there, but if there’s one thing you can bank on it’s that we’re all going to be hearing a lot about Rio over the next 12 months.

But with the world and his outside broadcast unit decamping to the Copacabana to cover the exploits of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps next summer, the construction industry might be getting to know another Rio, slightly closer to home.

That’s right folks: the relatively slumbering beast that is the Regeneration Investment Organisation could be about to wake up and give a real shot in the arm to scores of schemes currently clamouring for finance.

The idea behind RIO is a fairly simple one: the organisation finds key projects that have struggled to get going and matches them with institutional investors keen to get a slice of the UK’s infrastructure and property market.

Put crudely, it’s a dating agency for certain types of projects and the moneymen that could make them happen.

So far, with the notable exception of Manchester’s Airport City, the flow of schemes to benefit from RIO’s network of backers has been more of a trickle than a flood. But that could be about to change.  

News broke this morning that L&G has dipped its toes into the regeneration waters with its first RIO-brokered investment, albeit more than six months after announcing a £1.5bn partnership with the government body.

The Thorpe Park Leeds development will see L&G plunge £162m of that fund into a scheme that could create 13,000 jobs and 7,000 homes. It is exactly the kind of scheme - transformational, strategic, and not in London - for which RIO was set up.

If they can find a few more like it - and RIO chairman Sir Michael Bear has told Construction News that there are £40bn worth of “shovel-ready” schemes on its books - then this could really be the start of something big. Olympian, even.

Tomorrow’s chip paper

Conventional wisdom says not a lot happens in the dog days of August. Well, apparently the construction world is too busy to take a week off in Corsica because the news train is in full flow…

Earls Court developer Capco could have questions to answer, as three London Assembly members seek an investigation into the demolition of the famous exhibition centre, amid claims that asbestos on site has not been dealt with safely, an allegation rejected by Keltbray.

Network Rail dominates the headlines again, with the regulator threatening the beleaguered company with a £2m fine for licence breaches over poor performance.

And, while the industry has recorded its ninth straight quarter of growth, the latest Construction Trade Survey shows that we’re not out of the woods yet, with profit margins still falling for many contractors.

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