PM’s Asia trip to promote FinTech & regions

Sky News has obtained a provisional list of the delegates due to accompany the Prime Minister on a trip to the Far East scheduled to take place after parliament breaks for the summer recess.

Unlike similar visits in the past, Mr Cameron’s party will have just one chief executive of a FTSE-100 company – Mark Wilson, who runs insurance group Aviva.

Other well-known executives joining the trip include‎ John Nelson, chairman of Lloyd’s of London; Leo Quinn, chief executive of the troubled infrastructure group Balfour Beatty; Paul Kahn, the president of Airbus UK; and Philip Bouverat, a director of the construction equipment group JCB.

The delegation includes an unusually sizeable contingent from the financial tech sector, reflecting the Government’s emphasis in this month’s productivity plan ‎on accelerating its growth and positioning the UK as a global leader.

Among those attending from the FinTech industry are Alastair Lukies, chairman of Innovate Finance; Peter Smith, co-founder of the Bitcoin group Blockchain; Rhydian Lewis of RateSetter, the peer-to-peer lending platform; and Christophe Rieche of Iwoca, which provides credit to small businesses.

In total, 30 businesses are expected to be represented on the trip, which will be the first to be led by the Prime Minister of a Conservative government for nearly two decades.

It will be much smaller than the largest trade mission led by Mr Cameron to Asia, which comprised more than four times the number of delegates during a trip to China just over 18 months ago.

However, a Downing Street‎ source said that officials were “delighted” that so many SMEs and companies from across the UK were to accompany him.

Just six of the delegates are women, however, which may prompt questions about the gender imbalance of the trip.

Among the regional businesses expected to join the Prime Minister are Hampshire-based ACE Winches, AT Engine Controls from Manchester, Sheffield-based The Floow, and Bango, a Cambridge-headquartered digital billing platform.

A number of the executives attending are expected to sign deals and memoranda of understanding during the visit, which comes amid uncertainty about the future shape of UK Trade and Investment.

Ministers including Lord Maude, the new trade minister, are understood to be keen to devolve more responsibility for ‎export and investment promotion to the relevant Whitehall departments.

The Government is likely to miss its target of doubling exports to £1trn by 2020 by some distance, with one person close to UKTI describing it as “overambitious in the extreme”.

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on any aspect of Mr Cameron’s visit, while none of the delegates contacted by Sky News would comment.