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.
In saying AG Lafley is “uniquely qualified” to lead Procter & Gamble – again – Jim McNerney, the board’s presiding director, somewhat understates the case.
Not only was Mr Lafley one of P&G’s most successful ever leaders between 2000 and 2009, he has literally written the book on how he achieved the corporate turnround – Playing to Win, co-authored by Roger Martin and published this year. But the record of chief executives who return to the top job is mixed: while there are benefits to bringing back the former CEO, there are pitfalls too.
Depositors of banks in Cyprus now fear they have less money than they thought while US corporations have plenty of cash to hand – $1.45tn and rising, according to Moody’s. But whose money is it, anyway?
Sarah Gordon points out that Nokia and Sony have a set of problems that undermined their capacity for innovation. But they are far from alone in being victims of Apple’s success.
In fact, the list of Apple victims is long and stretches across the media and technology. Since Steve Jobs unveiled iTunes and the iPod in 2001, starting Apple’s decade long rise to dominance in consumer technology and electronics, his company has left many of its competitors wounded.
The wave of suicides at the vast plant near Shenzhen owned by Foxconn, the Taiwan contract manufacturer, where 300,000 workers are employed, raises questions about the sustainability of China’s use of migrant workers from rural areas.
The FT was allowed unusual access inside the Foxconn plant in Longhua, which has in the past been kept out of view of reporters, and Kathrin Hille’s video interviews with Foxconn employees, as well as the company’s spokesman, are fascinating.