Monthly Archives: June 2013

When David Cameron visits Kazakhstan next week to expand trade links with the vast central Asian country, the British prime minister might ponder a recent piece of business. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the Kazakh company that has tarnished the City of London, wants to go private again, angering investors amid a UK Serious Fraud Office inquiry.

Andrew Hill

I confess I didn’t really know who Marc Rich was when the commodities trader’s unexpected pardon from Bill Clinton came through in January 2001. As the FT’s New York bureau chief at the time – and duty reporter that Sunday – I had to find out quickly. It was a tortuous story that will be retold many times in the coming days, following the announcement of his death on Wednesday.

You can read Rich’s official online biography or the less flattering Wikipedia version, both of which, interestingly, are referenced in the formal press release from the Marc Rich group announcing his passing. What strikes me, however, is the effort and money he must have spent over the past decades to ensure his story would be told in a positive way. Read more

Caught in a traffic jam on his way to a gala in New Jersey this month, Sir Richard Branson bought drinks at a local shop and handed them out to frustrated drivers himself. So far, so Branson. As the Virgin founder explained last week in a blog post: “Those people who recognised me were happy to wind their windows down. Those who didn’t thought I was up to no good and kept their windows firmly closed!”

Even by China’s standards, Wuhan Iron & Steel is enormous. As we drive along the four-lane highway beside the 22 square-kilometre site – with its eight blast furnaces, hot and cold rolling mills, port on the Yangtze River and Red Steel City workers’ town where 300,000 people live – the scale of Mao Zedong’s favourite steelworks is staggering.

Ravi Mattu

Spend one-and-a-half days at a Founders Forum event and it’s impossible not to get infected by the techie-enthusiast bug. The day after last week’s big get-together I found myself beginning a Bob the Builder story with my two-year-old: “It was a busy time in Silicon Valley.”*

The Financial Times is media partner with the event, and this year sponsored two prizes. Founder of the year was won by Ilkka Paananen, chief executive and co-founder of Supercell, the Finnish gaming company behind Clash of the Clans and Hay Day, while Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi, the credit card-sized microcomputer, was awarded the One to Watch prize. Read more

John Gapper

The western image of Chinese higher education is of relentless self-improvement and of hundreds of thousands of students graduating from universities with degrees in science and engineering. From China’s perspective, it looks a little different.

The slowing of growth and the fact that most new job creation is now taking place in the private sector, rather than in the public sector and state-owned enterprises, has led to a glut of new graduates. The unemployment rate among 21 to 25-years olds is now highest for university graduates.

But some Chinese analysts think it is not simply a demand problem – there is also a supply issue. Victor Yuan, chairman of Horizon Research, a Shanghai-based research group, argues that many universities are offering poor quality vocational education. Read more

Andrew Hill

“Fashionable management school theory appears to have lent undeserved credibility to some chaotic systems.”

This line leapt out from the 571-page UK parliamentary review of banking published on Wednesday. It’s in the conclusion to the passage criticising the way in which banks applied the “three lines of defence” risk control framework – line managers, risk controllers and compliance staff, and internal audit. Read more

Andrew Hill

If I were Charlotte Hogg, newly appointed as the Bank of England’s first chief operating officer, I would be a little worried.

It’s not that the UK’s central bank doesn’t need an extra pair of operational hands at the top. The possibility that future governors would be overloaded was one of my principal concerns about the BoE takeover of a large chunk of the now-defunct Financial Services Authority, so Mark Carney, governor-designate, has made the right move.

But chief operating officers are, as I’ve written before, eminently dispensable and their roles are usually difficult to define. Read more