Monthly Archives: September 2012

Andrew Hill

In my article on Thursday about chief operating officers, I gave four reasons why chief executives might appoint someone to this hard-to-define role – to succeed them, to support them, to liberate them, and to tackle a challenge for them. But it seems I left one out: to be a scapegoat.

G4S has underlined my point about how such posts are as easily abolished as they are created, by getting David Taylor-Smith, the group’s chief operating officer, to carry the can for the group’s failure to provide the 10,400 guards who were ordered up to support the London Olympics. (Ian Horseman Sewell, managing director of its global events division, has also resigned). To the embarrassment of the company, organisers and UK government, the security shortfall had to be covered at the last minute by the military (who, of course, did a brilliant job). Read more

Andrew Hill

“National interests in the sphere of strategic-level business have all but disappeared,” claims a senior executive of EADS in a new book. But the opinion of Lutz Bertling, chief executive of the group’s Eurocopter subsidiary, is now being tested in battle, as national governments wrangle over what a merger between EADS and BAE Systems would look like.

To be fair, the German executive’s chapter – “Commercial Top Strategic Leadership: A Helicopter View” – was written before the EADS-BAE talks became public. But the question of how Mr Bertling’s personal views might apply to the aerospace and defence merger was raised at Thursday’s launch of In Business and Battle, a “cross-cultural, cross-sectoral and international” anthology of insights into strategic military and civilian leadership. The discussion at London’s Royal College of Defence Studies – where Mr Bertling first presented his ideas – was non-attributable. But as one of the distinguished guests said: “Consolidation is right, but whether this is the particular merger that should be backed is still open to some debate.” Read more

Next week, the Financial Services Authority is due to announce tighter listing rules to deter abuses by London-listed companies. There is cause for disquiet: this week’s implosion of Bumi , the Indonesian coal-mining group part-owned by Nathaniel Rothschild, the financier, follows governance wrangles at the Kazakh-focused Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation.

John Gapper

The news that Temasek, the Singapore investment fund, may dispose of its £6bn stake in Standard Chartered, has reignited talk of the British bank finally losing its independence. I will believe it when I see it.

No doubt Standard Chartered will cease to exist as an independent bank one day, but I have heard speculation about it for 20 years, and it never quite seems to happen. It is like talk of the dollar losing its status as a reserve currency. Read more

The “fit and proper” test is regulators’ and professional associations’ tool of choice for assessing suitability for office – a spirit-level for acceptable conduct.

John Gapper

The outcry over Apple’s switch on its new operating system and iPhone to its own mapping technology rather than Google Maps strikes me as more serious for the Cupertino wizards than past glitches.

There have been widespread complaints over Siri, the voice-activated artificial intelligence application in the iPhone 4GS and now iPhone 5. But Siri is at least an optional extra, while maps are now a key product feature of smartphones.

The trouble is that Apple is playing catch-up with Google over its mapping technology – it switched to its own information service because it felt that Google was favouring Android phones, leaving the iPhone vulnerable. Read more

It is natural to regards any merger proposed by BAE Systems, the UK’s biggest defence company, with suspicion. Had it a better record of predicting its industry’s future and doing deals at the right price, it would be in less of a pickle.

Andrew Hill

If I were a 72-year-old billionaire with interests in three Los Angeles sports teams and venues from the Californian city’s Staples Center to London’s O2 Arena, I might be inclined to relax, put my feet up and count on enjoying another 15, even 20, years of guaranteed VIP seating at the best live events in the world. But I am not Philip Anschutz, the Denver-based billionaire who has just put Anschutz Entertainment Group, his sport, music and entertainment company on the block.

We’re unlikely to hear the explanation for this decision direct from the mogul himself. One of the few live events AEG has not had a hand in staging or hosting recently is a press conference or interview starring Philip Anschutz. Read more