Thursday, 28 May 2009

George moves Beyond Petroleum

More job news. George Trefgarne, the former speech writer to former BP boss Lord Browne, has left the oil giant.
Lord knows what he's up to next, but the move feels a touch rushed as I sense Treffers never quite fulfilled his potential at BP - at least in comedy terms.
Browne's monologues rarely contained the incendiary gags for which his speech writer was infamous (if you exclude that appearance in front of the Judge, of course), and City historians will surely conclude the Peer's straight delivery was an opportunity missed.
Trefgarne, of course, once infuriated a well known sports chain by implying the retailer only sold its wares to drug dealers, while, during a debate over the future of Gibraltar, he suggested England keep the Rock and give the Spanish Scotland instead. Unlike the rest of us, SNP leader Alex Salmond was not amused.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Kleinman v Peston scoop-match to begin

Following my story on Friday that Sky News has poached Sunday Telegraph City editor, Mark Kleinman, there is more business news being broadcast by the telly station today.
First comes confirmation that my tale was spot on (I can confound my critics - occasionally), while the channel also announced that long-standing business editor Michael Wilson is to leave.
All great stuff for viewers of the internal Sky soap opera, of course, but a question occurs.
Sky hopes that signing Kleinman might prevent it being so comprehensively outgunned by the BBC's Robert Peston - who is credited with virtually every major scoop of the credit crisis, supposedly gleaned from his legendary Treasury contacts.
Conversely, Kleinman's great skill is breaking corporate scoops. But will an exclusive about a massive rights issue carry the main bulletins quite as well as Pesto's Whitehall bombshells?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

WPP advertises abroad

We may be in the middle of what is drearily being dubbed an "age of austerity", but advertising giant WPP sees no irony in trying to push through a new bonus scheme that could see boss Sir Martin Sorrell trouser £60m over the next five years.
UK investors find that one a bit rich, so the company's turning to US shareholders in an effort to slip the scheme through.
That may or may not prove successful, but Sir Martin must be praying that those American investors never bothered to tune in to his Davos blog last year, on which he deliberated about how masters of the universe were prone to forgetting how the rest of us live.
"Just limbering up for Davos at the Hubert Burdas DLD conference in Munich," Sir Martin mused back then. "Seems to be total disregard for the stock market meltdown. Not only a disconnection between the financial markets and the real world at the moment, but the new media world too ... Ironic that Davos will operate in the middle of a major financial crisis. Klaus (Schwab) certainly has a flair for timing."
As too, it seems, does the Lord Mayor of London, Ian Luder. When awarding Sir Martin the Freedom of the City of London in November, he gushed: "He is a great ambassador for British business across the world.”
Let's hope so!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Bank holiday notice

I've always thought Bank Holidays to be a ridiculous notion (why not give everybody an extra day's holiday and let us chose when to take it?) but that doesn't stop me indulging when they come along.
Back tomorrow. Probably.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Sky hits the Mark in battle with the Beeb

Media news. Mark Kleinman, the City editor of the Sunday Telegraph, is defecting to Sky News.
Kleinman is a bit of a newshound, so the move looks as though Sky is attempting to start competing with the BBC and Robert Peston, another former Sunday Tel City boss.

Update: the Press Gazette is now following my tale here:

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Greenspan puts up, rather than shuts up

I see that Alan Greenspan, the former Fed head who played a starring role in creating the one of the greatest boom and busts in history, is warning that the financial crisis still has a way to run. Time to buy?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

American Psycho returns

The Times' City Diary has a nice little picture caption today about the latest US fad to use lasers to print business cards on meat (I kid you not).
The image shows a card belonging to one Patrick Bateman of Pierce & Pierce - which I guess is another joke by the inventors.
Patrick Bateman (of course) is the lead character in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. He worked at a fictional Wall Street firm called Pierce & Pierce – which was also the same place that employed Sherman McCoy in Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Greenshoots for Greenspan

Despite taking his fair share of the blame for his role in creating the financial crisis, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan is still performing lectures to Deutsche Bank clients in his role as an adviser to the German bank. Irrational exuberance?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Call centre quote of the week - live from Bangalore!

Virgin Media operator to customer being informed he would be without a television service for four days and would be receiving just £5 in compensation:
"You have received more compensation than you deserve."

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Come again, Eliot?

I see that my old pal Eliot Spitzer - the former governor of New York who resigned last year after some unfortunate business with some pricey prostitution ring - wants a return to public life. But is the decision his to make?
The randy old goat was caught with a ring of call girls at the Mayflower Hotel and, ever since, there have been all kinds of tales that he was fitted up by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad - chiefly as payback for making life so uncomfortable for Jewish financiers on Wall Street.
I always dismissed those yarns as wild conspiracy theories - until one very well connected source told me to think again. My man was involved, it seems.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

A story of one half?

Spinners for Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov have been working overtime casting their former con client as a genuine Arsenal fan, who is simply trying to use his hard-earned resources to return the club to greatness.
Today's Telegraph - fresh from reporting genuine scoops at the front of the book - dedicates the front of its sports section to a story about Usmanov offering to pay off a chunk of the Plus Markets-listed company's £318m of debt. Strangely, the paper omitted to ask what Alisher might want in return for this magnanimous gesture - information that might possibly interest the club's shareholders (if not the more credulous fans).
Only getting half the story from the Uzbek's bench is no surprise for regular spectators of this fixture - especially ones who subscribe to the postings of our former man in Tashkent, Craig Murray.
But, a question remains: with Stan Kroenke edging further in front as Arsenal's largest shareholder, what are Usmanov's acolytes attempting to achieve by planting this story now?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Recession facts - Part 1,205

An IMF delegation is in town this week to quiz UK officials about the state of our finances...

Monday, 11 May 2009

Claims and counter claims

Back in February, when the kerfuffle over Sir Fred Goodwin's pension was at its most hysterical, politicians were proposing a probe into the former RBS boss's expense claims to see if it might unearth evidence that would persuade him to hand some of his pot back.
What happened to that project, I wonder?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Trouble over the Guardian hedge?

Furrowed brows at the dull but worthy Guardian Media Group, where amazing rumours circle about possible redundancies following huge hedge fund losses supposedly suffered by the media company.
Apparently the brothers within the Grauniad trade unions are now involved and the name of former GMG chairman, Lord "just take the pension, Sir Fred" Myners is also being linked to this sorry tale - all of which gets me thinking.
Surely this story is far too good to be true?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Queensland is the king of the spinners

A genuine tip of my bowler to the Tourism Queensland publicist who dreamt up the "best job in the world campaign".
The little PR ruse to find a new caretaker of an Australian tropical island resulted in media outlets dashing to give the Aussie state a tucker bag full of free gushing coverage, which would have cost millions of bucks had Queensland picked up the phone to newspaper advertising departments.
The "search" eventually unearthed one Ben Southall, who just happens to come from the UK - Australian tourism's biggest market - resulting in even more fantastic coverage here.
No wonder they dub Queensland the Smart State.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

It's (still) the taking part that counts

As even the pinko press advocates spending cuts and UK unemployment is predicted to peak at 3m next year, the London 2012 gravy train still seems to steam ahead unrestricted.
The Olympic organising committee is currently advertising for a "Finance Business Manager"; a "Head of Risk Assurance"; a "Licensing Executive"; a "Government Relations Executive"; an "SEQ Manager" (eh?); a "Deputy Manager, Venue Press Operations"; a "Manager, Main Press Centre"; a "Revenue Accountant"; a "Payroll Coordinator" and, wait for it, our old favourite, a "Sustainability Partnerships Manager".
Trebles all round!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Bloomberg ensures traders' losses are terminal

I hear that Bloomberg is giving away terminals to sacked City workers playing the markets from home.
Surplus traders backing themselves to do better with their redundancy cheques than they did at major institutions is one of the more obvious errors perpetually made during recessions. It's one of the most hilarious, too.