Business week in review

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The Independent Online

In profit...

Barclays boss Bob Diamond was surely showing off another mouthful of his pearly whites after Monday's announcement, and Wednesday's completion of the sale of the bank's $6.1bn (33.9bn) stake in US fund manager BlackRock.

The group held on to the investment after it sold Barclays Global Investors to the Americans in 2009. However, Barclays decided to cash in as soon as the lock-in period ended, as holding equity stakes in financial services companies is expensive for UK banks under tough rules introduced in the wake of the crisis.

Although the shares were valued at $182-a-pop when Barclays acquired them in 2009 and were sold for just $160 last week, the bank can book a profit in its accounts this year. This is because Barclays had written down the value of the shares to just $148 in 2011.

Need to borrow a tenner? It might be worth getting to know Asos chief Nick Robertson. On Thursday, it was revealed that the online fashion specialist had hit his management incentive plan targets, meaning that he could pick up £24m of shares in the next 16 months.

The same day, Harriet Green was named Thomas Cook chief executive.

... at a loss

Few investors were pressing the "like" button for Facebook last week, though some were giving the social media phenomenon a pretty severe "poke" for its disastrous trading performance.

The $104bn valuation achieved on its stock market debut the previous week looked very full by Monday, when shares fell to more than 10 per cent below their float price. But worse was to come for the founder and newly-minted billionaire Mark Zuckerberg,as by Wednesday, he and several of the banks that arranged the listing, including Morgan Stanley, were the subject of class action lawsuits by investors alleging that weakened growth forecasts had been hidden.

Zuckerberg was also criticised for failing to defend the company. To be fair, the recluse was probably trying to enjoy his honeymoon, having got married last weekend.

It was not just a bad week for Marks & Sparks, it was the worst performance for three years. On Tuesday, boss Marc Bolland announced annual profit was down for the first time since 2009.

In a bad day for heads of big retail, Tesco's Philip Clarke refused his bonus following poor UK sales.

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