London Mayor Boris Johnson is to embark on a series of trips overseas to generate investment for the capital in the wake of the Olympic Games, it was confirmed today.
The Games have won the Mayor an international profile, with images going around the world of him welcoming the Olympic Torch to Hyde Park with a stirring speech or dangling from a zipwire after a stunt went wrong.
Mr Johnson's team believe that his popularity and larger-than-life personality will help win contracts worth billions for London.
But they say that planning for the trips - starting with a visit to India at the end of this year - began long before the Olympics and is not a response to the so-called "Boris bounce" which has seen his political stock rise sharply in the past few weeks.
Speculation has mounted over whether he could succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader and Prime Minister, as one poll even suggested that with Mr Johnson at the helm the Tories could cut Labour's lead to just one point.
The Mayor is expected to visit each of the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - over the next 18 months, and also hopes to travel to some of the smaller Asian nations which are emerging as fast-growing economies.
He will take small groups of business leaders with him, with the aim of attract foreign investment to drive regeneration and create jobs and growth in London.
"Frankly, Boris is one of the few people who could deliver this," said an ally.
"His contact with sovereign wealth funds and big business leaders, as well as his draw as a political personality, is a key selling point for a lot of these people."Suggest a correction