Monthly Archives: May 2011

Andrew Hill

Listen to political debate about the future of Britain’s public health system and you’d quickly draw the conclusion that it is overburdened with useless, pen-pushing bureaucrats who prevent “front-line” staff from saving lives.

Wrong, says a new report from the King’s Fund, a think-tank that has managed to condense into a core of 31 pages the latest thinking on public health management – and on management in general. Read more

The news this week that Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney-general has launched yet another inquiry into Wall Street’s role in the mortgage crisis will no doubt be greeted with groans at investment banks. Four years – and multiple investigations – after the meltdown started at two Bear Stearns hedge funds, isn’t it time to move on?

The chief executive of the Public Relations Society of America has called the revelation that Facebook secretly hired Burson-Marsteller in the US to drum up stories and comment pieces criticising Google’s approach to privacy “a PR nightmare”.

John Gapper

I’m intrigued by McDonald’s move in Europe to replace some cashiers by introducing touchscreens on which customers can order their own food because it is a practice that could be introduced more widely in retail outlets and restaurants.

My reaction stems from having noticed that I prefer to use self-scanning machines at a local supermarket rather than go to the aisle where items are scanned by a cashier. I find it generally quicker and easier to scan them for myself. Read more

Andrew Hill

People, not companies, are at the heart of the battle over the European Union’s passport-free travel zone. France, Italy and Denmark are trying to crack down on the movement of migrants across their borders. The European Commission is concerned that the so-called Schengen system could be undermined. But business should be worried, too.

Think how many companies’ strategies are now based on the principle of free movement of people and goods between the 25 members of the zone. If “temporary” border controls were reinstated, tourism would be the first to suffer. As Denis MacShane, former UK minister for Europe, tweeted on Friday:

Schengen rules allow for passport, custom checks on temporary basis. Will Germans put up with 10km queues to go into Italy, France 4 hols?

 Read more

Andrew Hill

The conviction of Raj Rajaratnam for insider trading means McKinsey can breathe again. For now, the drip-drip of courtroom revelations about what Rajat Gupta, ex-head of the consulting firm, or Anil Kumar, a former partner, told the hedge fund billionaire, has stopped.

Mr Kumar has already pleaded guilty to insider trading. Mr Gupta, who denies wrongdoing, faces Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges. (A third McKinsey partner, David Palecek, who died last year, was mentioned in the trial, but his widow’s lawyer has said that he never agreed to “play ball” with Rajaratnam.)

Pending any action against Mr Gupta, the consulting world is wondering what will be the fall-out from the case – and not just for McKinsey. Read more

Steve Ballmer became chief executive of Microsoft in January 2000, a few months before a federal judge ordered the company to be broken up on antitrust grounds, because it was too powerful and was extending its grip too widely. This ruling was later reversed and, 11 years later Microsoft remains in one piece, and its size and scope has turned into its weakness.

Tom Glocer has been celebrating the success of the three-year integration process that melded Thomson with Reuters. But the chief executive of the information and media group needs to beware overstating the value of its ownership model. In a recent Financial Times interview, he said that Thomson Reuters – 55 per cent of which belongs to a family investment company – had “what may become the defining corporate structure of the best institutions for the next 20 years”.