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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 17:33 GMT
Fresh row over Dome's future
Millennium Dome
The future is still not clear for the Millennium Dome
Millennium Dome chairman David James is embroiled in a new row over the attraction after saying plans by his former colleague Pierre-Yves Gerbeau to buy the south London site do not add up.

Mr James said that although the former Dome boss was a "great guy" to whom all at the Dome owed an enormous amount, he still had things to learn about commerciality.

David James
Hitting out: David James
And he urged the Frenchman to "put his money where his mouth is" regarding his plans for the site, which Mr Gerbeau would like to keep as a visitor attraction.

Mr Gerbeau objects to the contents of the Dome going on sale, until a final buyer for the site is chosen.

"All we are getting at the moment is puff," said Mr James.

"The government cannot be expected to give P-Y a sweet-heart deal on a green field opportunity to develop this until somebody has said precisely what it is that he is going to do and how the numbers work out at the end," he added.

"P-Y's strength was running the affairs of the Dome. He has burgeoning ideas but he's a young man who still has a little way to go in terms of bringing together the threads of commerciality," Mr James said.

Drowning in 'red ink'

P-Y Gerbeau first expressed an interest in buying the Dome in January, just a few weeks before Legacy lost its preferred bidder status, after failing to meet the government's deadline.

Legacy, which had planned to turn the attraction into a high-tech business park, became favourite to buy the attraction after Japanese bank Nomura pulled out of the sale last November.

The race is now back on and P-Y Gerbeau maintains he is in a position to take over the site.

But Mr James, who took over as executive chairman of the New Millennium Experience company in September, expressed concern about the financial burden Mr Gerbeau would be taking on.

Inside the Millennium Dome
One amazing sale: Dome contents up for auction
He said the Dome had been the victim of "one dud financial estimate after another" and if Mr Gerbeau was serious about his plans he would have to carry the acquisition costs of the Dome, the development cost and the running costs until it had achieved economic viability.

"You are talking about several years and some hundreds of millions of pounds and there is a huge credibility problem.

Mr James added that anyone wanting to run the Dome along its previous lines would "drown in a barrel of red ink".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Pierre-Yves Gerbeau
"We're on a mission and we're going to make it happen"
Chairman of the Dome David James
This place has been the victim of one dud financial estimate after another"

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22 Feb 01 | UK
22 Feb 01 | UK
16 Feb 01 | UK
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