Wednesday, 23 December 2009

SlackBelly will be unwell...

I'm retiring to spend Christmas with my drinks cabinet. Back soon(ish).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Cold Hertz

As a bit of snow yet again brings Britain to a halt, car rental firm Hertz is also now joining in the fun.
It is frantically ringing customers who had booked in London to tell them that the group has no more cars left in the capital, as apparently the fleet is stuck in the north.
That leaves a raft of customers - including many Gold Club card members - stranded in the city over the festive period. Merry Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Bottom of the Hill?

What price on another profit warning from bookie William Hill?
I ask as the Nicholls/Walsh combination cleans up in the big races, while racing is being cancelled due to the weather - none of which will go down well with the turf accountants.
Football results have picked up for bookies of late, but they don't usually need much of an excuse to start moaning. Even money.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Double chin and tonic

Chubby Nicko Miles - the M Communications boss who is one of the most successful financial PR deal makers in the City - is deferring to a new adviser.
Lady Isabella Hervey (sister of that awful brat, Victoria) has been engaged as Nicko's new personal trainer, and the jolly spinmeister brags to friends that she is "rather thin".
She doesn't say the same about him.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

FT brothers scoop their own scoop

Those nice chaps at the Financial Times can only be pushed so far.
Like BA staff, there is a day of action today and a picket (at the FT!). The National Union of Journalists are outside the building, in the snow, and meeting inside to discuss "Unsafe and Unprofessional workloads" says my spy.
The NUJ are also handing out flyers, the highlight of which is this: "Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman Sachs boss and the FT's 'Person of the Year' is not the only doing God's work - so are FT journalists inproducing premium products for a discerning audience."
A slight problem is that the NUJ staffers have broken an embargo, because the great vampire squid himself has not actually been named Person of the Year by the FT, yet.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Interactive Investor looking for eye-to-eye

Is financial services website, Interactive Investor, looking to do a trade of its own? I keep being told that chief exec Tomas Curruthers is hawking the business around. Developing...

Friday, 11 December 2009

Chat blow for Rothschild

With the mysterious British Virgin Islands duo of Munto Finance and Qadbak looking to take an early bath from their Notts County "project" (see below), I wonder how the fallout is being viewed at the venerable institution that is Rothschild bank?
Qadbak - which supposedly funded Notts through Munto and once claimed to be buying the BMW Sauber Formula One team - has had to put up with nosey journalists questioning its financing for months. But at least it had the unquestioning support of Rothschild banker, Meyrick Cox, who acted as an adviser to BMW and was so confident in the group that he even chatted with journalists on the subject.
"So Meyrick," my email to the shrewd banker begins. "The Qadbak deal to buy the BMW Sauber team has collapsed. And now the Notts County takeover is unravelling. Many people saw it all coming. But not you! So, I wonder, do you still stick by your comments that Qadbak is a 'wholly reputable organisation'."
So far, no answer from Meyrick. Busy, I expect.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Notts the way to do it

How nostalgic. The management buyout is back in vogue.
This time it is former England football boss, Sven Goran Eriksson, who seems to be positioning himself to takeover Notts County, the League Two club where he is director of football.
His partner in this "deal"? The club chairman Peter Trembling, a man who seems to enjoying hanging around with convicted fraudster Russell King and a businessman of such renown that he lives in a three bed semi in Sandiacre. Happy days!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A week is a long time in business...

Oh, the dangers of prophesy. "A year of hard work pays off," was how the Financial Times headlined its interview last week with Russia's former richest man, Oleg Deripaska, ahead of a possible initial public offering in Hong Kong for his aluminium group, Rusal.
Not quite. Hong Kong has now delayed the flotation.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Bernanke writes another type of sequel

Ben Bernanke - chairman of the Federal Reserve - knows a thing or two about financial crises, having written the definitive work on the Great Depression.
He's been grafting pretty hard over the past two years to make sure he doesn't have to pen the sequel, so we should listen to his criticisms today of Gordon Brown whose decision to strip the Bank of England of its supervisory role over banks led to a “destructive run” and a “major problem for the British economy”, according to the Fed chairman.
Well, we should listen again, that is. Bernanke has said all this before.
Back at a 2006 Treasury Select Committee hearing, chairman John McFall pointed out to Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King: "On a recent visit to the United States we had the opportunity to meet Ben Bernanke and he told us that he prefers to maintain the Federal Reserve's responsibility for banking regulation, due to possible co-ordination problems that might exist between the central bank and the separate regulator in the aftermath of a financial crisis."
King replied that he thought it "only a hypothetical risk".

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The curse of the award strikes again...

Just five weeks ago, Maryam Sharaf - group chief operating officer and chief financial officer of stricken Dubai World (motto: "the sun never sets on Dubai World") - was cheerfully accepting the “Leading Woman CFO” Award, instituted by the Women in Leadership Forum.
“Financial management of Dubai World is a team effort," she gushed back then. "I regard this award as welcome recognition of the work my finance team and the management of Dubai World have undertaken.”
Too modest!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Lewis rides again

I read that Joe Lewis, the country's ninth richest man, is working on a takeover bid for Alphameric.
That's the listed technology company that also owns a 50% stake in Turf TV, a joint-venture broadcast service with a consortium of 31 racecourses, that beams live racing footage from the top UK courses into bookmakers' shops.
The bookies have always hated Turf TV - which competes with the Ladbrokes- and William Hill-owned rival, SIS - and the new service's creation triggered a number of lengthy legal battles (eventually won by the Turf TV stable).
Still, there are a couple of intriguing points about Lewis's interest not mentioned in today's Telegraph report.
First, Joe Lewis is still thought to be a sizeable Ladbrokes shareholder; and second, the JV deal covering Turf TV contains a change of control clause that allows the racecourses to buy 100% of the broadcasting service if Alphameric gets takenover.