Run for your money

May 29, 2012

Who says you can’t mix business and pleasure? Governments and company CEOs are planning to do just that – combining a bit of hurdles-watching with deal-fixing when the Olympics open in London in eight weeks’ time.

July and August are usually the dry season for newsworthy finance ministers and corporate managers, as the conference schedule clears and journalists and strategists have no excuse but to stay in the office and do some long-postponed paperwork.

But this year,  government officials are hoping that the positive news of Olympic medal-winning and the draw of visitors to London for the Games will enable them to attract investment.

During the second half of the Olympics in August, the African & Caribbean Business Expo in London promises sightings of:

Public sector commissioners, ministers and heads of state from Africa, the Caribbean and the UK, who will use Expo to facilitate trade links and inward investment contracts.

The event, which the organisers say will be the biggest business event during the Games, includes among its sponsors an organisation from Nigeria (4 medals at the Beijing Olympics), while the UK government trade department UKTI is a partner.

And in case anyone gets anxious:

Olympic events will be streamed into the Expo to ensure that all delegates can keep up-to-date with the results from Olympic venues as they come in.

Jamaica (11 Beijing medals), meanwhile, has not been slow to catch onto the Usain Bolt factor. It plans to issue a diaspora bond in August, to tie in with the Olympics. A diaspora bond is usually offered in smaller denominations than a regular Eurobond but at a lower yield, to attract investors among the country’s diaspora population but at a below-market cost to the issuing government.

And the UK government says it is hosting no less than 18 global business summits during the Olympics, at the luxurious surroundings of Lancaster House.

Anyone lucky enough to get an invite can expect to enjoy the company of the IMF’s Christine Lagarde, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Barclays’  Bob Diamond, among others. When you feel hungry, UKTI says:

Modern, visionary menus and food presentation, using locally sourced and sustainable produce will be on offer.

A host of architects and designers will be kitting out the 19th century house and a pavilion in its grounds. Oddly, though, there’s no mention in the press statement of that Olympic Games necessity, a flat-screen TV.

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