Featured Posts

Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

Read more

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

Read more

Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

Read more

Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

Read more

UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

Read more

Health minister threatened with ejection from royal college

Category : Business

Earl Howe’s position on advisory committee under threat as doctors claim he ‘mis-sold’ health reforms

A health minister is facing the humiliation of being ousted from a prestigious role within the Royal College of Physicians over claims that he falsely reassured doctors who feared the coalition would privatise of the NHS.

Earl Howe’s position on an advisory committee is being reviewed following a complaint. Six influential members of the professional body that represents doctors wrote to its president, Sir Richard Thompson, claiming that the minister was “not a fit person to fulfil this important role”. Thompson has launched an investigation by the College’s trustees into Howe’s probity.

The senior doctors claim that Howe, a former banker, falsely advised them that reforms under the health and social care bill would not force doctors to use market mechanisms to choose where patients will be treated.

According to the doctors, the regulations will mean that clinical commissioning groups – the bodies to be set up by GPs to organise patients’ care – will have to put services out to tender if there is more than one provider capable of offering particular treatments. This means NHS hospitals and services will have to compete with private health firms for business.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said there had been a breakdown in trust between health professionals and government, adding: “This whole issue has become a crisis of trust for the department of health. There would be a straight forward breach of trust given that statements ministers have given have not been honoured.

“The medical profession feels the government has mis-sold its NHS reforms. It was sold on the principle that doctors would be in control but in fact it will be the market that will decide.”

A spokeswoman confirmed that Thompson, and “in the interest of probity”, had “referred the issue to the board of trustees and would report back in June”.

She said the Friends of the RCP, the committee on which Howe serves, is an informal advisory group, including past presidents and officers, and figures from finance, industry, and other charities, that plays no role in the governance or management of the RCP but offers advice in areas such as effective fundraising.

The coalition denies the regulations will force doctors to put services out to tender, believing it will give GPs the ability to select a variety of providers and will improve standards.

Hewlett-Packard chairman quits over Autonomy sale

Category : Business

Raymond Lane has been replaced on interim basis by Ralph Whitworth as crisis over acquisition of software firm continues

The chairman of Hewlett-Packard has stepped down and its two longest-serving independent directors are to leave the board as the fallout from the firm’s disastrous acquisition of British software firm Autonomy continues.

Two weeks ago at HP’s annual meeting, chairman Raymond Lane and directors John Hammergren and Kennedy Thompson scraped through a vote on their re-election with the slimmest of margins.

They were rebuked for mistakes at the world’s largest maker of personal computers, including the ousting of two chief executives in as many years and admissions that recent acquisitions are worth billions of dollars less than their purchase price.

Lane has been replaced as chairman on an interim basis by activist investor Ralph Whitworth, who has sat on the HP board since 2011, but will remain a director. Hammergren and Thompson, who have served for eight and seven years respectively, will stay only until the May board meeting and a search is underway for their replacements.

“After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month, I’ve decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any distraction from HP’s ongoing turnaround,” said Lane. “I’m proud of the board we’ve built and the progress we’ve made to date in restoring the company. I will continue to serve HP as a director and help finish the job.”

Lane, a former executive at leading software firm Oracle, was in charge when the previous HP chief executive Léo Apotheker was given the go-ahead to spend $11.7bn (£7.7bn) acquiring Autonomy, then listed on the London Stock Exchange.

HP’s attempts to move away from the low margin PC business into more profitable software sales failed to convince investors, and after a 40% drop in the share price and less than a year in the top job, Apotheker was forced out.

Lane held on, helping to install fellow HP board member and Ebay’s former chief executive Meg Whitman as Apotheker’s successor. But 41% of shareholders opposed his re-election last month, while 46% voted against Hammergren and 45% against Thompson.

A spokesman for one of the largest North American pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), took the floor at the annual meeting to express “extreme concern with HP’s path in recent years”.

HP’s new interim chairman has a reputation for building small stakes in troubled companies in order to fight his way on to the board and agitate for change. Whitworth’s previous scalps include Robert Nardelli, whom he helped oust as chief executive of retailer Home Depot, and mobile network Sprint Nextel’s Gary Forsee. His firm, Relational Investors, owns $800m of HP shares.

“Ray, John and Ken are terrific leaders, and they’re passionate about doing the right thing for HP,” said Whitworth. “Meg is leading a Herculean turnaround, so most of all, we must build and maintain the best possible leadership structure for Meg and HP’s entire team to succeed.”

Harper Government Invests in Improvements to Barriere’s Community Infrastructure

Category : Stocks, World News

BARRIERE, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – Dec. 8, 2012) - Today, Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced federal funding for upgrades to the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association’s facility under the Harper Government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).

Continue reading here: Harper Government Invests in Improvements to Barriere’s Community Infrastructure

Post to Twitter

Wisconsin sends Democrat Tammy Baldwin to Senate – Los Angeles Times

Category : Stocks

Wisconsin sends Democrat Tammy Baldwin to Senate
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON – The Democratic candidate for Senate in Wisconsin seized victory after a hard-fought race reflecting the partisan divide that has become Badger State politics. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the congresswoman from Madison, emerged from a standoff
Tammy Baldwin tops Tommy Thompson in WisconsinPolitico
Democrat Tammy Baldwin wins Wisconsin Senate raceWashington Post (blog)
Baldwin defeats Thompson for Senate in WisconsinUSA TODAY
Wall Street Journal (blog)

Post to Twitter

Sanctimony follows Mark Thompson from the BBC to New York

Category : Business

The former director general’s connection with the Savile scandal is tangential at best: but that didn’t stop a columnist at his new paper immediately calling for his head

From a paddling pool of sanctimony to a plunge in the deep end: from the BBC to the New York Times. Mark Thompson was not director general of the BBC when Jimmy Savile was around. He wasn’t at the BBC at all during Savile’s salacious 70s. Maybe the Pollard report, when published, will show he knew something about the Newsnight investigation last November; but maybe not, because of the way the corporation keeps its news about news twitchily separate. So why is a New York Times columnist allowed to write a piece saying Thompson isn’t a suitable CEO to take charge at the sacred organ – an opinion that makes ripples round the world?

Because editors at the NYT can’t tell columnists on the paper what to write. Because anything goes in the name of editorial freedom. Because sanctimony trumps proper inquiry every time. Perhaps, in small ways, Thompson will feel quite at home at the Grey Lady once the floodwaters of murk recede.

Fat Face losing streak ends

Category : Business

Clothing brand Fat Face ends years of poor results with pre-tax profit of £500,000 on sales of £163m in year to 2 June

Clothing brand Fat Face has ended several years of poor results by booking a small profit after it successfully weaned shoppers off price cuts.

The Havant-based company made a pre-tax profit of £500,000 on sales of £163.6m in the year to 2 June. Its chief executive Anthony Thompson described it as a “resilient performance” against a backdrop of weak consumer confidence. The “mid-month blues” had got worse for Britons, he said, with the retailer seeing a spike in trade at the end of the month as consumers splashed out on new clothes after pay day. “Things have got tougher, much tougher.”

The former Marks & Spencer executive was brought in two years ago to lead a turnaround of the chain founded by two ski fanatics, Tim Slade and Jules Leaver, who started out selling après-ski sweatshirts in 1988. It was bought by Bridgepoint for £360m in 2007 but came unstuck during the recession forcing the private equity firm to inject fresh funds as part of a refinancing. “It’s not a strategic decision to be a discounter if you were previously a full price retailer,” said Thompson who said discounted products now accounted for 25% of sales compared with 50% when he took over in 2010.

A tight rein on costs helped the retailer reduce its substantial debt pile by around £10m to £150m, Thompson said. He conceded its debt remained high given market conditions but said the retailer was operating comfortably within its banking covenants.

Scott Thompson on Life After Yahoo

Category : Business, World News

After a quick, humbling departure from Yahoo, and a fight with thyroid cancer, Scott Thompson returns with a smaller, private tech firm

See the original post here: Scott Thompson on Life After Yahoo

Post to Twitter

‘If the Arctic melts, we’re all potential victims’ – audio

Category : Business

Greenpeace campaigner Graham Thompson talks about why the group’s Save the Arctic campaign is important

Visit link: ‘If the Arctic melts, we’re all potential victims’ – audio

Post to Twitter

Farepak: lender HBOS ‘made firm collect cash as it was close to going bust’

Category : Business

Judge condemns bank benefiting by £10m as Christmas club savers endured loss of hard-earned cash

The Farepak debacle could have been lifted straight from the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.

For a year, 116,400 of the country’s poorest families had been putting aside a little bit of cash, saving up for Christmas.

Unbeknown to them, Farepak, the savings club they were squirrelling their cash into, was in serious trouble. The company had run out of money to buy the vouchers customers had paid for and faced collapse unless it could get some emergency funding.

Farepak’s bosses, who included Sir Clive Thompson, a former president of the CBI employers’ organisation dubbed “Mr Twenty Percent” for his growth record as chief executive of Rentokil Initial, were desperately looking for help but failed to find the funds to stay afloat.

Every solution the directors proposed – including the firm’s major shareholder writing down the value of its holding to zero – ultimately failed, because Farepak’s main lender, HBOS which is now part of the bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group, was in the words of the high court judge investigating the collapse, “playing hardball”.

“HBOS was not prepared to provide any significant positive assistance to solve the difficulties the group came into,” the high court judge Mr Justice Peter Smith said in a statement in open court: “The reason for this was because at all times from the commencement of the troubles HBOS was fully secured and, as was shown in the outcome in October 2006, did not lose anything.”

The judge said Farepak could probably have been saved if HBOS, under the then chief executive Andy Hornby, had lent it an extra £3m-£5m. But, the judge said, it was not in the interests of the bank to save the company and protect the savers.

In fact, the judge said, HBOS “substantially benefited from deposits that were received late in the death of the companies in September/October 2006″.

“The bank had, as I have said, almost a pride in their strong attitude, but they went beyond that of course because they in effect forced the directors to carry on in September/October collecting deposits … at a time when they believed [the bank would go bust].”

The judge said it was a “tragedy” that savers lost their hard-earned money, while the bank benefited to the tune of £10m – £4m of which came directly from savers’ deposits when Farepak was careering towards an inevitable collapse.

While HBOS has done nothing illegal, the judge questioned the bank executives’ morals and implored them to make a further “substantial payment” to the victims, who eventually received back only 15p for every £1 they had given to Farepak. A spokesman for the bank said it had made “entirely reasonable decisions” based on information available at the time but said it would “consider” the judge’s comments.

The most striking element of the dramatic events in court 26 of the high court’s new Rolls Building was that it was not HBOS, but Farepak’s former directors who had been standing trial.

Vince Cable, business secretary, had asked the court to ban the former Farepak bosses from being company directors for up to 15 years. The case against the directors collapsed when it became clear that the company’s former bosses had done everything in their power to save the firm but had been frustrated at every turn by HBOS.

The judge rounded on Cable, and the Insolvency Service, which brought the case, for relying on lengthy witness statements that were unfairly “slanted against the defendants”. Smith said witnesses were forced to retract crucial evidence when it became clear they did not understand – and in some cases did not appear to have read – their statements. He also criticised the length of the some witness statements, some of which ran to 700 pages.

It is the second time this week that the government has been forced to abandon a high-profile case after the Serious Fraud Office dropped its 15-month investigation into the Mayfair property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz on Monday.

The collapse of the Farepak case is likely to cost the taxpayer about £20m in legal fees. A costs hearing will be heard next Friday but the Insolvency Service is expected to be asked to pick up the bill for the legal costs of all the parties, except those of Lloyds.

The taxpayer could face the prospect of further multimillion-pound payouts in the future as Farepak’s former directors are understood to be considering suing for damages to their reputations and loss of earnings.

Thompson told the Guardian that he also plans to sue three MPs, including the former cabinet minister Jack Straw, for defamation after they publicly attacked him over Farepak’s collapse. Shortly after the collapse Straw branded Farepak’s demise a “truly scandalous situation” and said: “The more we find out about it, the more – bluntly – it stinks”.

He is also considering suing Jim Devine, a former Labour MP sentenced to 16 months in prison for expenses fraud, who branded Thompson the “unacceptable face of capitalism” and Anne Snelgrove, who called him a “modern-day Scrooge”.

Farepak case collapses at the high court

Category : Business

Business department drops demand to ban five former bosses from being company directors for up to 15 years

Vince Cable’s attempt to bar the bosses of Farepak, the Christmas hamper business that went bust leaving 116,400 people out of pocket, collapsed at the high court.

The Insolvency Service, part of Cable’s business department, withdrew its case against the directors, including Sir Clive Thompson, a former president of the CBI.

An Insolvency Service spokeswoman said the decision to drop the case was taken on the basis of the evidence given to the court. “The Insolvency Service, acting on behalf of the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills and on advice of counsel, will discontinue the proceedings against the directors of Farepak and [its parent company] European Home Retail. This decision is based on consideration of evidence given to the court to date.” The Insolvency Service, acting on behalf of Cable, had been calling on the high court to ban five former Farepak bosses from being company directors for up to 15 years.

Cable said: “I am deeply disappointed by the day’s events and feel a huge amount of sympathy for those who lost out when the company went bankrupt … Without doubt, we need to reflect on this result, consider what options are on the table and seek further legal advice if needed.”

The Insolvency Service had accused Farepak’s former directors, including Neil Gillis, a former chief executive of Blacks Leisure, and five others, of taking “unreasonable risk” with prudent savers’ money.

Earlier in the case it was claimed that Farepak was taking in about £1m a week from customers on low incomes right up until its collapse in October 2006 even though the company had identified a risk that it might not have enough cash to pay its suppliers as far back as November 2005.

Lawyers representing the former directors of Farepak and EHR told the judge, in written submissions, that evidence had “singularly failed” to establish a case for disqualification. One said: “What it comes down to in the end is essentially the commercial judgment and decision-taking of the defendants.” The former Farepak directors had denied the allegations.

Mr Justice Smith is expected to make a statement to the court tomorrow .

Thompson was the highest profile of the directors facing charges and had been known as Mr Twenty Percent when he was the boss of Rentokil.

At the time of the collapse, Farepak was owed £35m by EHR, which was chaired by Thompson. EHR also collapsed.