The Business Week In Review: AstraZeneca, Bob Dudley, the Financial Services Authority and Clinton Cards


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The Independent Online

In profit...

AstraZeneca boss David Brennan graced the downstairs bit of this column last week. An error, we now admit: he's done all right for himself.

Despite the ignominious failure of an antidepressant once viewed as the company's next blockbuster and the oft-argued case that Astra's drug pipeline is well and truly plugged, Brennan was paid £9.1m in 2011 according to the Monday's annual report.

The GMB union went nuts, as national officer Allan Black reportedly fumed: "It's a shame that Mr Brennan wasn't prepared to share some of the company's largesse in preserving some jobs in the UK."

While we're eating some crow, it's time to cut BP chief executive Bob Dudley a little slack. Before we do, a quick reminder that Dudley has made some avoidable misjudgements, not least the proposed $10bn share swap with Rosneft that so infuriated BP's existing Russian partners in TNK-BP. But, he has succeeded in selling assets to fill the war chest for costs of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. On Tuesday, BP sold North Sea gas assets in the North Sea for $400m.

On Wednesday, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich received a $79m dividend from his stake in FTSE-100 steelmaker Evraz. a loss

Now into its final year, the Financial Services Authority is having a good crack at going out in style. On Monday, the regulator fined Coutts £8.75m for lax security checks on whether funds paid into its accounts were the result of money laundering.

Boss Michael Morley was told the bank had "serious, systemic" deficiencies, particularly over accounts from countries with historical corruption issues. However, it could have been worse, as by settling early and not fighting the allegations Coutts saw nearly one-third slashed off its fine.

But the FSA didn't stop at fining The Queen's bank. On Wednesday, it sued three ex-directors of doorstep lender Cattles and its subsidiary Welcome Financial Services a total of £700,000, though one is contesting his £100,000 charge.

The trio, which included former Cattles finance director James Corr, have also been banned for life from working in the finance industry after the group all but collapsed in 2009.

On Thursday, Don Lewin confirmed that he will retire from Clinton Cards, where he is still chairman 44-years after opening his first store in Epping, Essex in July. He leaves on a sour note: the first-half loss was £3.67m.