Accuse Toady of over-sensitivity if you will, but Tony Budge does not seem a welcoming sort of chap. Approach the Retford offices of AF Budge Ltd - Britain largest independent road-building firm, and Budge's private demesne - and you will find yourself staring down the barrel of one of the Russian T34 tanks parked by its MD around the periphery of his HQ. Lest visitors do not take the hint, Budge has interspersed the tanks with his personal collection of Scud missile launchers. One person who did manage to penetrate Budge's corporate Maginot Line was his younger brother, Richard. Last year, in Britain's first-ever fraternal buy-out, Budge Minor acquired AFB's open-cast coal mining business for £102.5 million, leaving Budge Major with a handsomely debt-free business. As if this did not make AFB a sufficiently attractive target, both major parties are thought likely to endorse major road building programmes to gee-up the economy after the election.
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