Thursday, 30 July 2009

S-O - 7 Today!

Will the Sarbanes-Oxley morons - Paul and Michael - the pair of US politicians who gave America the eponymous Act in response to its corporate and accounting scandals, be celebrating their love child's seventh birthday today?
Possibly not. Despite the current climate, the Act is still blamed for costing Wall Street billions, with Hoover's noting as recently as 2008 that it was: "cooked up in the wake of accounting scandals earlier this decade, it has essentially killed the creation of new public companies in America, hamstrung the NYSE and Nasdaq (while making the London Stock Exchange rich), and cost US industry more than $200 billion by some estimates."

Lucas spins right round

Goldman Sachs spinner-in-chief, Lucas van Praag, has never been this dizzy.
As the attacks on the bank pour in from publications both thoughtful (Rolling Stone) and wild-eyed (Wall Street Journal), van Praag is working double-time to keep the critics in line.
Not surprising then, that he may have appeared to contradict himself on occasion, as he tries to explain why Goldman is not actually to blame for everything from swine flu to global warming.
Sometimes, in trying to explain the unique culture of the bank which makes it so successful (it's definitely the "culture", not the government bailouts) he describes a place where ideas spring forth from bright individuals who are encouraged to speak out:
"In some other firms, nobody disagrees with the boss. Lloyd Blankfein would say that's not a luxury he enjoys," he offers to The Daily Telegraph.
On other occasions, he reckons instead that the secret is the fact that Goldmonites are a bunch of drones who all think and act alike.
"The cult of the individual, which I think has been a disadvantage to so many of the firm's competitors, really doesn't exist here," he tries.
Well, which way round is it, old son?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Three years - loads of non-jobs - and counting

With exactly three years to go before those trundling along on the London 2012 gravy train have to deliver an Olympic Games, it is an opportune time for another of my semi-regular fillers examining the non-jobs on offer (and helping flatter the UK's unemployment statistics).
Current vacancies include:

Assistant Venue Project Manager;
Environmental Manager;
Lead Logistics Manager (Venues);
National Olympic Committee Continental Manager (Africa);
National Olympic Committee Continental Manager (Asia);
National Olympic Committee Continental Manager (Pan America);
Brand & Marketing Director;
Paralympic Sport Coordinator;
Arrivals and Departures Manager;
Financial Analyst - Finance and Reporting;
Management Accountant;
Venue Results Manager;
Spectator Services Staffing Manager, and;
Spectator Services Operations Manager.

Trebles all round!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

A message from SMS?

Is Merrill Lynch banker Simon Mackenzie Smith about to move on?
The man who led the floats of Debenhams and Sports Direct is said by some close to him to have itchy feet. Mackenzie Smith is best known for settling (and winning) an argument about a £200,000 bill with Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley over a game of spoof. Word is that he has been '"interviewing" and indeed, say spies, is "desperate to move on".
Merrill is such a mess, who can blame him? Developing...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Jezza gets a whack on the bonce

Jeremy Warner must have suffered a severe blow to the head. Or perhaps he's been got at.
But today's piece in The Telegraph gets awfully close to reaching an actual conclusion on what to do with the banks.
"Let's please learn the lessons and break up these goliaths, rather than fiddling around with capital controls and reform to banking supervision. Bankers will always find a way around those constraints."
Blimey! Of course, few people will have managed to read that far, given how turgid is the rest of his shoot-me-now prose.

A missable offer

FT editor Lionel Barber says websites will be charging for online content within a year.
SlackBelly is somewhat ahead of the curve and will begin charging immediately*.
Sign up now for just £50 a month to continue receiving a daily (usually) snippet of semi-news/abuse.

*not really.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Sunday, 19 July 2009


Former HBOS boss, Sir James Crosby, about to enter the Mound Stand boxes at Lord's today - still with that daft haircut of his.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Warner reports that he still can't make up his mind

Jeremy Warner, the Daily Telegraph's "brilliant new columnist", still can't make his mind up about anything that matters.
Musing on the massive Goldman Sachs second quarter profits and the bank's role in the financial crisis he offers: "It’s pointless to get into the debate over Goldman’s culpability in what happened."
Why is it pointless? Surely deciding if Goldman is culpable or not is central to any description of how the bank is doing.
Warner says Goldman "rightly or wrongly is judged to have contributed to the near collapse of the banking system and a deep recession in the real economy".
Well, which is it?
As usual, Warner doesn't know, and is too timid to even venture an opinion.

Update: for a more critical view of Goldman Sachs during the credit crisis, click here.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Newsnight high on OD?

Tim Whewell's film about Russia's former richest man and Peter Mandelson's best friend - the embattled oligarch Oleg Deripaska - is scheduled to be shown on Newsnight tonight at 10.30pm.
It is rumoured that it will be rather a soft effort. Let's hope not.

Update: The rumours were (unsurpisingly) correct. So a coup for OD's PR man, Roland Rudd. Treble (vodkas) all round!

Breakingviews News

I see that The Times has followed my Friday tale about online commentary service, Breakingviews, being on the block (and indeed, deputy business ed, Ian King, has taken it on a bit further).
"Thomson Reuters, the financial information group, is in preliminary talks to buy," King reports, before adding: " is understood to have appointed Perella Weinberg Partners, the corporate boutique, to advise on a possible transaction".
Quite why (having spent a fortune developing an analysis service of its own) Thomson Reuters would want to buy one, is a question that remains unanswered. However, a small clue may be sitting on the blog of Thomson Reuters boss, Tom Glocer.
On it he lists his favourite online news sources and right behind the obligatory Reuters reference comes (you've guessed it) Breakingviews.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Breaking up at Breaking Views?

I hear talk of upheaval at Breaking Views and the mutterings are that a buyer is sizing up the business.
Perhaps my clever young friends at Alphaville would benefit from the expertise that Hugo Dixon and his rapidly changing team could bring them.
I think we should be told.

Nobody going for Gold

Here's Gillian Tett's new book on the credit crunch, Fool's Gold, which you can see is coming under economic pressure itself having been discounted just a couple of month's after the tome's glamorous launch party. Fortunately, Gillian still has her day job as a columnist on the Financial Times where she writes about the potential of the "current wave of extraordinary policy measures unleash[ing] a wild bout of inflation". Not in publishing, luv.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Swine Flu latest

Red alert at the Pink 'Un where an email has been sent to all Financial Times staffers warning that one of their parish has caught the piggy flu.
I hear that Sarah Witt, from the world desk, is the patient and that her hubbie (and fellow FT hack), Pedro Das Gupta, is also "unwell".

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Auntie remains shy over corporate plugs

More on my story about the BBC's Wimbledon Nike plug over the weekend. Last week, the Beeb broadcast a similar puff piece - this time a package with Des Lynam doing the voice over and inviting people to take part in an online poll on who was the greatest Wimbers player of all time.
Martina Navratilova and Bjorn Borg were interviewed extensively and both were wearing very heavily-branded HSBC polo shirts. HSBC branding also featured elsewhere in the package, which was obviously prepared outside the BBC.
Was there an explanation that this was an external production (given Des Lynam no longer works for the Corporation)? Or even an acknowledgement that the content might even have been sponsored? Of course not.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


The Monetary Policy Committee may be considering expanding its quantitative easing programme on Thursday, but the decision doesn't seem to be taxing Mervyn King too heavily.
He's been spotted (on numerous occasions) by the BBC cameras at Wimbledon over the past fortnight - and is there again today, enjoying the men's final.
In fact he's sitting just behind Pistol Pete Sampras.

Update: Speaking of Sampras, how did the BBC allow Nike to broadcast such a blatant advert within its coverage following yesterday's Wimbledon final? The public service broadcaster managed to get itself duped into running a short film called Fifteen Love - filmed entirely in the style of a Nike commercial - to "celebrate" Roger Federer's 15th Major victory. The sports stars "congratulating" Federer? Er, John McEnroe, Tiger Woods, Pistol Pete and Serena Williams - all long-standing and high profile members of the Nike sales force. Solid work.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Bowker bows out

The Times made National Express boss Richard Bowker their "Business big shot" yesterday - pointing out the job Bowker has on to pay the Government £1.4 billion to maintain the East Coast Main Line franchise until 2015, before concluding that his "previous experience means that he is better placed than most to try".
D'oh! Not any more. One day later and Bowker had resigned (for "a high-profile job overseas") - while ECML became the latest asset to be swallowed by the UK's sovereign wealth (sic) fund.