Monthly Archives: August 2012

John Gapper

For connoisseurs of acerbic rulings by judges – I still remember fondly the evisceration of Conrad Black by Leo Strine, chancellor of the Delaware chancery court, as “unreliable and evasive” – this is a red letter day.

Mrs Justice Gloster’s description of the evidence of Boris Berezovsky in his losing case against Roman Abramovich is worth savouring in full. And so, from today’s ruling, paragraph 34, here is is: Read more

If anything is calculated to cause despair about the prospects of making the financial system safer, it is the failure of the Securities and Exchange Commission to tame the $2.6tn US money market fund industry. Mary Schapiro, the SEC chairman, has tried her best but she was stymied last week.

Andrew Hill

Britain is “considering new rules” to make the London Stock Exchange more attractive to start-ups, according to Bloomberg, using the US “Jumpstart our Business Startups” Act as the model.

Careful. The quest to make individual exchanges more attractive than their counterparts for initial public offerings is fraught with risk and can quickly turn into a race to the bottom on standards. Read more

Anyone who has worked with a prima donna – and hasn’t everyone? – should study the latest career moves of Kevin Pietersen and Robin van Persie.
Cricketer Pietersen, one of England’s best ever batsmen, was dropped from the team last week, accused of sending what the South African-born player admitted were “provocative” texts to the opposing South African team, allegedly denigrating the England captain. Footballer van Persie, Arsenal’s captain, was sold to newly listed Manchester United, six weeks after stating on his website that he and the London club’s management “disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward”.

Andrew Hill

Both John Gapper and I are away on leave this week. Normal service will resume on August 27.

Andrew Hill

Mark Thompson – image by Getty

I don’t know Mark Thompson, outgoing director-general of the BBC, but I have my doubts about how well his long career at Britain’s public-service broadcaster – interrupted by just two years at commercial Channel 4 – will equip him to run the New York Times Co.

Critically, his new employer has to generate its own revenues, rather than simply pulling money in from a mandatory television licence fee and then spending it.

Management is management, whether in the public or private sector. Mr Thompson is obviously talented and will arrive in Manhattan battle-hardened, not only from his fights with the UK government, and the unions, but from regular set-tos with the New York Times’ biggest rival, Rupert Murdoch, and his clan. Co-blogger and former FT media correspondent John Gapper – currently on holiday – has tweeted that Mr Thompson is “a good choice for the NYT – former hack, strategic, tough, down-to-earth. Used to opinionated employees and controversy” and “also experienced in running a media icon that thinks a lot of itself – mostly justifiably, sometimes not”. Read more

If you’re finance minister of a G7 country, the last place you want to read about the start of the gravest financial crisis in modern memory is in the FT. That’s how the UK’s Alistair Darling heard five years ago of the unprecedented central bank effort to shore up the financial system: at the news stand of a Majorca supermarket where he’d gone to buy rolls for breakfast. When he called his office, he wrote later, “it took several hours to find someone with any idea of what was going on. It was infuriating. Why hadn’t I been phoned?”

Andrew Hill

I wrote in July about the management lessons to be drawn from organising the Olympics and one point that particularly struck me was that the London 2012 organisers’ job continues well into 2013.

First there are the Paralympic Games to stage, then there are venues to be closed, knowledge to be transferred to Rio de Janeiro’s organisers, and accounts to be tallied.

The job strikes me as comparable to that of the administrators of companies that go into liquidation or the senior executives of life insurers that close to new business and go into “run-off”. Read more