Monthly Archives: June 2009

Stefan Stern

Many promises are made at the altar during a merger or an acquisition. Most of them get broken. It is worth reminding yourself of this now, before the next wave of whirlwind corporate romances arrives.

So far this year there has been only mixed evidence of renewed appetite for M&A. Sure, the proposed £40bn ($66bn, €47bn) merger between the mining companies Xstrata and Anglo American caught the eye, just as Oracle’s $7.4bn deal to buy Sun Microsystems and GlaxoSmithKline’s $3.6bn move for Stiefel Laboratories did.

The past three months have been relatively quiet, however, as businesses wait to see how robust any potential economic recovery really is, and whether finance will be available. Getting valuations right at a time like this is in any case extremely difficult.

The remainder of the article can be read here. Please post comments below.

Ravi Mattu

London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit (theme: Leadership in Challenging Times) is taking place today. Stefan Stern is tweeting from the conference but I made it part of the morning session, including an impressive keynote address by Jeff Immelt, chief executive of GE, and a panel discussion chaired by my colleague Martin Wolf, that included Ian Davis of McKinsey, Paul Walsh of Diageo and Kishore Mahbubani.

Here are a few highlights from Immelt’s presentation on “The way forward for business in a reset economy”:

Ravi Mattu

Ravi Mattu

David Rohde, a New York Times reporter, recently escaped from the Taliban after being held as a hostage for seven months. Unusually, particularly in the world of the 24-hour newscycle, the NY Times managed to keep the story of his abduction quiet with the co-operation of a raft of other news organisations.

Bill Keller, the paper’s executive editor, explained to CNN how they worked with their sometime rivals and also dealt with the bloggers who are often thought to be more difficult to control.

UPDATE: David Rohde returned to the New York Times yesterday, with his Afghan translator.

Stefan Stern

Why aren’t businesses and organisations more innovative? Are they filled with dull, unimaginative people? Are they lacking crucial “core competencies”? Or are their people just not working hard enough?

The answer to those last three questions is no, no and no. Something else must explain the inability of companies to display greater innovative flair. What is it?

The problem for senior managers is that, as you walk round the business or study the organisational chart, nothing much may seem to be wrong. People are at their desks or in meeting rooms, hard at work. Something that looks like two-way communication appears to be taking place. And then there are all those e-mails, instant messages and texts. You can be confident that good ideas must be flowing freely within the organisation.

The remainder of the article can be read here. Please post comments below.

Stefan Stern


I suppose there is a logic to this. What do you think an online Jack Welch MBA will be like?

Suggestions please.

Ravi Mattu

Stefan Stern

I cannot improve on this excellent commentary on Sir Fred Goodwin by my colleague Andrew Hill  in today’s Lombard column in the FT.

Ravi Mattu

Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall Cirque du Soleil is 25 years old this week. To celebrate, the company on Tuesday tried to set a world record for the most people simultaneously walking on stilts. It will take the auditors at the Guinness Book of Records some time to analyse whether they realised their ambition.

Cirque du Soleil, which began as a small group of stilt-walkers, jugglers and musicians has become a global business that employs more than 4,000 and has revenues of more than $700m. As we reported last year, Guy Laliberte, its founder, even won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award a couple of years ago. More recently, Mr Laliberte paid $35m to become a space tourist.

The joys of being a successful entrepreneur.

Ravi Mattu

For anyone wondering whether we have our finger on the pulse of management, our story on how Generation Y is may be more similar to the Baby Boomers than marketers and managers had thought taps in into a rich vein of discussion right now on a group commonly defined as “demanding, selfish, text-addicted job-hoppers with little loyalty to their employers”.

In addition to the studies mentioned in the story (one by London Business School’s Centre for Women in Business the other from the US-based Center for Work-Life Policy), LBS has opened up a blog called Genderation Y on the issue and the Ashridge Business School has just released Generation Y: Inside Out, a research project into this sector of the workforce.

About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

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