Friday, 30 July 2010

Gross Gross

Does Bill Gross, managing director of investment management giant Pimco, suddenly fancy himself as a comic? The introduction to his monthly investment outlook is devoted exclusively to a monologue, in which he rues the demise of the manual flusher on public toilets (they still exist, Bill).

He writes: “I don’t know where it is located exactly, but there’s an electronic eye in the plumbing of public toilets these days that can sense when you get up and down and are finally finished with your ‘business’. My doctor says a proctology exam is a necessary evil but cameras in toilets? Never having seen myself from this particular angle, it is particularly embarrassing to turn over the assignment to a camera and in effect say, ‘Snap away – see anything that doesn’t look right?’.”

Hmm. Stick with the day job for a while yet, old boy.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Virgin (in)Active

Much talk about a potential sale of Virgin Active to private equity. But is it really likely?
Potential bidders seem baffled by the stories and suggest that ubiquitous adviser Goldman Sachs - fresh from its Ocado triumph - is leaking the stories in a desperate effort to stuff another over-priced offer down investors' throats. Developing...

Monday, 26 July 2010

(Yet) another Kleinkman inclusive...

"The board of BP is considering announcing as soon as next week that Tony Hayward, its embattled chief executive, is to step down, I have learned." Mark Kleinman, Sky News Blog, Friday July 23.

"As I revealed exclusively on this blog on Friday and discussed on air yesterday (both long before any other media organisation followed the story, despite some dubious claims to the contrary today), Hayward's exit three years after he became BP's boss leaves the company with an opportunity to rebuild its future."
Mark Kleinman, Sky News Blog, Sunday July 25.

"Tony Hayward is to step down as BP’s chief executive within the next ten weeks as the company seeks to draw a line under its disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "
The Times, Wednesday July 21.

Sindy Column...

TUI Travel in the High Court after three middle aged women jump from exploding boat. For this week's column, click here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Dissing Missing Gissing

Everybody in the City knew that the Ocado emergency rights issue/float was a dog - unless, of course, they worked for the company, its spinners Brunswick or the plethora of investment banks the online grocer paid to keep quiet about the offer (all of which are sell signs on their own).
Still, with hindsight, another red flag occurs. My old friend, Jason "Missing" Gissing, the group's newly anonymous co-founder and former finance director, now has the job of Ocado's "Director of People, Culture and Communications". Would anybody invest in a company employing directors with such pretentious titles?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Betting on a float

More on the planned Betfair float. Headhunters are currently compiling a list of candidates to become the betting exchange's new head of of corporate communications. Developing...

Monday, 19 July 2010

Return of a Gissing person

Has Ocado co-founder, Jason "Missing" Gissing, really got nothing better to do?
The Bullingdon Club boy was once the online grocer's frontman but, strangely, has had a remarkably low profile during the company's emergency rights issue/float and did not even make the team-sheet for last week's all important US investor roadshow.
I simply wondered where he'd got to, and it seems my innocent musings have touched a nerve as Missing has actually bothered to reply.
"Dear Slackbelly," he writes, during a rare piece of downtime. "Thank you for speculating on whether Gissing has gone missing. I am pleased to inform you that I am very much alive and well, and present!"
"If things get quiet over the summer, perhaps you would like to come to Hatfield, where I spend most of my time helping run Ocado and looking after the welfare of our 4000+ workforce. I suspect it might make a change from most of your company visits. I also suspect that you will find our people happy that I haven’t actually gone missing as I am spending much of my time improving the internal workings of Ocado (including staff welfare). It doesn’t make for good reading, but its [sic] just as important as meeting potential new investors in our IPO! Best regards, Jason."
Most self-effacing - and this from an entrepreneur who is desperately trying to float his (unprofitable) company in two days' time. Get on with it man!

Sindy Column...

Gissing's gone missing. For this week's Sindy column, click here.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Another Kleinman Inclusive

"Exclusive: Betfair Gambles On Autumn Flotation ... Betfair, the online betting exchange, is targeting an autumn stock market listing valuing the company at about £1.5bn, I have learned." Mark Kleinman, Sky News, July 16, 2010.

"[Betfair] recently postponed a planned £1.5 billion stock market flotation of the business, a process that has now been put back probably until the autumn." Racing Post, July 3, 2010.

Davies commentary suggests Betfair rift

Mark Davies, a founder of Betfair and its former managing director, has left the betting exchange to run his own communications business. But was the parting entirely amicable?
On his blog, Davies - the son of BBC football commentator Barry - reports: "It's Betfair's 10th anniversary party tonight at the HAC in the City - what I suspect will be a fabulous event given the hard work that I know has gone into it from the events team. Many Betfairians have sent me notes asking if they will see me there, but disappointingly, the answer is no: sadly my ten years as an employee fell a week short of the official celebration, so I'm no longer invited. Lucky people who joined the company this week and can attend after five days' service!" Ouch.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Red faces at the Pink 'Un

The standard of journalism at the Financial Times continues to drop even faster than newspaper industry circulations.
A fellow Slacker emails to point out that, in his copy, the Pink 'Un's page one trade minister story today refers to Rolls-Royce boss Sir John Rose as heading up the "prestige CARMAKER
" [my caps]. The company hasn't done that since 1973! Shoddy.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Embattled BP boss, Tony Hayward, marching into the depths of Number 10, presumably on his way to see spinmeister-turned-PM David Cameron. Is Hayward after a new PR man?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Black not sheepish about breaking silence of the lambs

We've all kicked ourselves when unloading the weekly shop only to discover we've neglected to pop a couple of important items into the basket. But has Ocado just done the same?
The unprofitable soon-to-be-floated online retailer hired UBS, JP Morgan Cazenove, HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Numis, Jefferies and Goldman Sachs to assist on the listing - a tactic almost certainly designed to stop any heckling about the firm's over-priced offer, as the flotation gig includes the implicit support the banks' biddable analysts.
Still, scribblers at institutions missing out on the Ocado gravy train don't seem as keen to partake in this silence of the lambs - and Shore Capital's Clive Black and Arden's Nick Bubb have even had the gall to say so. Time to pay off this insolent pair too?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sindy Column...

For this week's column, click here.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Nice gag being emailed around the City...

Dear Mr Moat.
It has come to my notice that John Terry has been porking your missus while you were in prison.
Yours sincerely,
Wayne Bridge

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Fancy that!

"What the Barcelona experience tells us is that the mutual model [of football club ownership], when combined with top-class business practice, through a partnership with club supporters, can offer a sustainable alternative to the private ownership model." Evening Standard, April 9, 2010.

"Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has revealed the extent of the financial worries at Barcelona, admitting the players' wages for last month have not been paid." Evening Standard, July 7, 2010.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Tappin up

My old friend Steve Tappin - the former headhunter turned executive mentor - has been caught before exaggerating his successes.
Now I see that the paperback edition of The Secrets of CEOs - the book he co-authored with Telegraph hack Andrew Cave - is being released.
Tappin's latest biography on Amazon reckons he's a "confidant and sparring partner to ten of the FTSE50 CEOs and their main boards on business performance, leadership and talent." Meanwhile, the jacket of the new book says our man's "the world's leading authority on CEOs".
Lofty claims. I do hope he can back it all up (this time).

Monday, 5 July 2010

IG goes long on office rent

I see that my (old) story about spread betters IG Group moving into the City has been picked up (again) by the press.
I didn't think it was that good a tale when I wrote about it in November, but to be fair to this current incarnation it finds an original angle by congratulating the group for securing a deal of under £20 per square foot.
But was it really such a tough negotiation? Not really. In fact, IG outbid another City firm which thought it had secured the offices at an even lower rent.

Sindy Column...

Nobody is taking the word of God's bank as gospel any more. Who'd have thought it? For this week's column, click here.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Spending ... you've been married too long

Bored of televised debates on Government spending? As ever, in America, they do things bigger and better. Here's CNBC anchor Rick Santelli - notorious for his on-air rants - having a go at Steve Liesman who is a, er, CNBC colleague: