Monthly Archives: April 2011

Nine years ago, when he was chief executive of Sprint, Bill Esrey told me how he and his team had strained to match WorldCom’s impressive quarter-on-quarter profit growth. They could not, and they later found out why: Sprint’s arch-rival had been inflating its income by manipulating its reserves in an $11bn fraud that dumped its chief executive Bernie Ebbers into jail and the company into bankruptcy protection.

John Gapper

Huawei’s attempt to soothe fears about the US government and investors about its corporate governance by disclosing the names of its board members – not too radical a step, one might think – begs some questions.

Huawei has two image problems – its links to the Chinese government and People’s Liberation Army, and the degree to which the family of Ren Zhengfei, its founder and chief executive, are involved in running the business. Mr Ren is a fomer PLA engineer. Read more

One day in early February, Samuli Nyyssonen of Nokia boarded a plane in Bangalore working for one company and disembarked in Helsinki working for another.

While the software engineer was in the air on February 11, Stephen Elop, the company’s chief executive, had told its 130,000 employees about a sharp change of strategic direction. Nokia would ally with Microsoft in smartphones, while at the same time boosting the group’s basic phone business in an effort to reach the “next billion” users. Read more

Sir John Vickers seemed irritated this week by the reaction to the interim report of the Independent Commission on Banking. Shares in banks rose on relief that its proposal to ringfence retail banks from investment banks were not more harsh, while Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays, made no repeat of his past threats to resettle his bank elsewhere.

Andrew Hill

There is no doubting Stephen Elop and his lieutenants’ resolve to rebuild the mobile phone company’s platform, having declared that it is burning. But having interviewed the chief executive and some of his leadership team – as well as current and former staff – for my two-part analysis of the company’s management challenges, I’m left with a nagging question: is the crisis at Nokia grave enough to trigger the necessary cultural and behavioural change at the Finnish group?

It remains a profitable company, with a strong balance sheet and the largest share of mobile phones by units shipped. Barely five years ago, it was riding high, the darling of business school professors and commentators, and that good feeling is hard for veteran Nokians to forget. Read more

Perspiring slightly under the arc-lights of an in-house television crew, Stephen Elop, Nokia’s chief executive, is about to deliver for the 10th time his “town hall” address to staff. He must sell to them the most radical strategy change since the historic tyres-to-timber Finnish conglomerate turned itself into the world’s leading mobile phone company in the 1990s.

John Gapper

It feels as if Wall Street is moving westward, and that US investors, having been caught up in the mortgage boom, have instead turned their attention to the opportunities on the west coast.

The National Venture Capital Association has unveiled figures showing that the industry had its best start to the year in terms of fund-raising since 2001, raising about $7.1bn in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Matthew Garrahan writes in the FT about the keiretsu-like Raine merchant bank, which is raising $500m from a range of Illuminati from Silicon Valley and Hollywood including Eric Schmidt of Google and Sean Parker of Facebook etc. Read more

Andrew Hill

Britain’s Independent Commission on Banking may have started the practical process of ring-fencing banks against disaster. But the commission has no mandate to expose the truth of what went wrong in the financial crisis (including, it has to be said, the complicity of ordinary borrowers) let alone heal the trauma it caused.

Brad Fried, former chief executive of Investec, thinks that if an honest, open analysis of the causes of the crisis is not carried out, there is a risk that the UK, and the financial world, will repeat the same mistakes. Read more