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Business Analysis & Features

Business week in review

In proft...

The first full week of 2013 brought lots of high-profile chief executive appointments and, of course, grating press releases from chairmen "welcoming" the "calibre" of person who can "capitalise on opportunities". Among them were several of real interest.

First up on Monday, Andrew McNaughton's six-month wait for the top job at the Olympic aquatics centre's builder Balfour Beatty finally came to an end. He has been charged with implementing a new business model that will see its UK construction services division broken into three.

Then on Tuesday, Mark Cutifani was confirmed as new boss of FTSE 100 miner Anglo American, snaffling a £1.2m basic salary and nearly £2.4m in compensation for lost bonuses at current employer AngloGold Ashanti. This ends the sector's most protracted saga, the continued sniping over the leadership of Cynthia Carroll.

Also on Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic announced it had nabbed Craig Kreeger from American Airlines, his employer of the past 27 years.

...at a loss

The hero of the hedge fund industry – yes, there is such a thing – fell to earth on Tuesday following a rare plunge in the value of his investments. David Harding, the Cambridge physicist turned super computer trader, saw his $10bn (£6.2bn) Winton Futures Fund record a loss for only the second time since its 1997 launch.

In fairness, Bloomberg figures show the entire computer trading industry had a tough 2012, as investments fell by 3.4 per cent after an even steeper decline in 2011. Winton fell by 3.5 per cent.

Jessops had the ignominy to be the first high-street casualty of 2013 on Wednesday, when PricewaterhouseCoopers was brought in as administrator. The new chief operating officer Neil Old was unable to revive the fortunes of the 78-year-old camera shop chain.

Rank Group boss Ian Burke is to review its loss-making Blue Square Bet business. On Thursday, Rank admitted that Blue Square was struggling in the "highly competitive" online sports betting market.