Daily Archives: October 4, 2011

Andrew Hill

As a pugnacious Flemish politician and prime minister of Belgium in the early 1990s, Jean-Luc Dehaene earned two seemingly contradictory nicknames – “the bulldozer”, for his bluntness, and “the plumber”, for his ability to reach compromises.

He’ll need to draw on both these skills as chairman of Dexia: the Franco-Belgian bank, pushed to the brink by eurozone turmoil, is contemplating break-up and seeking shelter from both Belgian and French authorities. As one Amsterdam-based analyst told Bloomberg on Tuesday – with admirable understatement – “Dexia is an extremely complicated file.” 

It’s gratifying when private corporate disagreements erupt into the open. It confirms the perception that business, often dressed up as a decorous diplomatic dance, is in fact a vicious hand-to-hand battle. It was in this spirit that I welcomed the recent outbreak of hostilities between Oracle – the software group headed by Larry Ellison – and Autonomy, the UK technology company founded by Mike Lynch and now being taken over by Hewlett-Packard.