Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lucy Kellaway

The latest video from UBS is a corker. I suggest you watch it at once. And when you’ve finished, watch it again: this one grows on you. It isn’t awful in a screaming obvious way like the famous Bank of America video with the executive singing U2’s One.

Instead there is a bald UBS banker with a Danish accent photographed in an empty theatre, waving his hands about and talking earnestly about his plans to make rich people richer. Read more

Few things are as alluring as optimism and Mark Carney sees the banking glass as half-full. The Bank of England governor has arrived from Canada with a dose of can-do spirit, casting off the pessimism of Mervyn King, his predecessor.

Emma Jacobs

Steve Jobs has joined Lenovo. Well, almost.

Actually the truth is only a little less outlandish. Ashton Kutcher, the Hollywood star of Two and a Half Men, who recently played the Apple co-founder in the poorly-received biopic Jobs, is the Chinese computer group’s latest recruit: a product engineer. Read more

There was something familiar about reports that a German cleric dubbed “the bishop of bling” had spent €15,000 on a bathtub for his palatial new residence. The Pope has now suspended Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, Bishop of Limburg, while his home improvements are audited. There is no evidence the bishop has done anything wrong, let alone illegal. But the affair brings back memories of disgraced Tyco chief executive Dennis Kozlowski’s notorious purchase of a $6,000 gold-and-burgundy floral-patterned shower curtain, using cash and loans from the company.

Adam Jones

Readers from countries accustomed to wild extremes of weather, please look away.

But for those in the path of the storm that swept through southern Britain into London’s rush hour this morning, we’re keen to know how you managed your teams to cope with the disruption. Read more

John Gapper

Boeing's Scott Francher outlines the future 777X

The news that Emirates Airline is planning to buy as many as 100 of Boeing’s new fuel-efficient version of the 777 is a further sign of the demand for long-range twin-engined passenger aircraft. Read more

Life can be unfair and it often feels unfair even when it is not. Both JPMorgan Chase and UK energy companies such as Centrica know this feeling.

Ravi Mattu

There is one question I’ve been struggling to figure out about Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to release his second memoir: why now? Of course, he has retired but for a manager renowned for protecting his players in public while berating them in the sanctity of the dressing room, publicly naming and shaming some of the club legends has generated lots of unflattering headlines.

Sir Alex certainly wants his legacy as a leader and manager to be recognised; his methods were recently the subject of a Harvard Business Review case study.

But another reason is hinted at in one of the most revealing quotes from the book, on the loneliness of being a manager: “In management you are fragile, sometimes. You wonder whether you are valued”. Read more

I recently spent time sifting strategic plans for seven non-profit organisations, drawn up by teams of MBA students for an FT competition, the winner of which will be announced this week.

Andrew Hill

As Britain agrees to build the country’s first nuclear power plant in a generation, it is chastening to learn just how bullish everybody was about British nuclear energy on the eve of the opening of Calder Hall – the UK’s first nuclear power station – 57 years ago. Read more

John Gapper

Is the $13bn settlement between JPMorgan Chase and the US state and federal authorities long-overdue justice for an errant bank, or a shakedown by politicians who went back on their word?

Charles Gasparino, the maverick Fox News business correspondent and commentator, thinks it is the latter. He wrote in the New York Post this weekendRead more

To tour the Burberry flagship store on London’s Regent Street – with its beautifully stacked clothes, its “magic mirrors” that illuminate with runway images, its signs in Arabic for Gulf tourists and its “VVIP” room on the top floor – is to enter as sweet a world as Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Ravi Mattu

Googlers: Vince Vaughn, left, and Owen Wilson in the film 'The Internship'

OK, this isn’t actually my question but one posted on Quora, the question-and-answer website. Helpfully, Sam Schillace offers an answer. And he ought to know: in 2006, he and his co-founders sold Upstartle, the maker of Writely, a word processor that worked in a web browser, to the technology company and it became the basis of Google Docs. Read more

Lucy Kellaway

Two years ago, I awarded Angela Ahrendts a prize. The chief executive of Burberry, I thought, should be honoured for her tireless services to business jargon.

And so I made her my winner for Outstanding Services to Bunkum in recognition of the most baffling paragraph ever written by a CEO in an annual report. In her statement in the 2011 report she wrote the immortal words: Read more

John Gapper

The appointment of Angela Ahrendts, chief executive of Burberry, to manage Apple’s retail operations is intriguing in many ways. One footnote is that she gets upgraded to a triple-A executive – her name and title will be alliterative.

In response to my pointing this out on Twitter, my colleague Andrew Hill argued that Ms Ahrendts has corporate rivals in alliteration: Read more

If “staying active” is the key to a long life, Carl Icahn will probably live for years. At 77, the US investor is on a concerted activist campaign. He has tried (unsuccessfully) to disrupt Michael Dell’s buyout of the computer maker he founded, dined with Apple’s chief executive and pressed him to return cash to shareholders, and last week planted board members – including his son Brett – at Nuance, the Boston technology company that gives Apple’s Siri his/her voice.

John Gapper

Having become used to A grades being handed out liberally in New York schools, I was taken aback to find a report card with an overall grade of D+. That is the current assessment of US infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The ASCE has a stake in persuading the US public to invest in infrastructure. Still, it is hard to contest the view that one of the weaknesses of the country’s economy is the poor state of its roads, railways, airports and other transport infrastructure. Read more

John Gapper

Royal Mail and Chrysler are both businesses with a proud industrial legacy that suffered in recent decades and each has embarked on an initial public offering. The outcomes are quite different.

Shares in Royal Mail soared on their stock market debut today, raising questions about whether the UK government and its advisers underpriced the deal. The heavy demand for shares, despite trenchant opposition from the Royal Mail’s trade unions, recalls the days of Margaret Thatcher’s privatisations. Read more

With its sale of composite, fuel-efficient A350 jets to Japan Airlines this week, Airbus entered a market that Boeing has, until now, controlled. It also proved Boeing’s point. The era of the grand aviation project, symbolised by Airbus’s decision more than a decade ago to build the A380 as a superjumbo rival to the Boeing 747, is over.

Andrew Hill

Hassan Rouhani, Iran's chief marketing officer

Iran’s snappy tagline “Death to America” is so 1980s. It is long overdue a facelift, which is why the country’s new president appears to be pushing for a brand refresh.

The current line’s longevity is no surprise. It meets most of Inc’s “five tips for writing an effective slogan“.

Admittedly, it doesn’t rhyme (but who has ever written a successful rhyming couplet that ends “America”?) and while it definitely underscores the country’s “general mission”, it doesn’t really differentiate the product from, say, al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Read more