Margareta Pagano: Should we care about all these alpha males?

What a week it's been for alpha males behaving badly.

In New York, Dominique Strauss-Kahn appears to have taken his droit du seigneur so seriously he is being tried for rape, while Munich Re has been forced to confirm that its top insurance salesmen were rewarded with escort girls at a thermal spa "sex party" in Budapest; red armbands were worn by hostesses willing to flirt only, while yellow showed those willing to provide all services.

In London, the court decision to scrap the super-injunction taken out by Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief of Royal Bank of Scotland, lifted the lid on what all Fleet Street had suspected for months but couldn't report – that he was enjoying an affair with a senior bank executive at the time of the bank's collapse.

It is tempting to indulge in a little cod psychology; to suggest that these high-powered businessmen are classic alphas; driven and ambitious – or "rutting gorillas"– as DSK has been described – and that they are merely being true to type.

But this would be dangerous; each of the cases is different and it is superficial to lump them together. Indeed, it is also worth asking whether the sex lives of these individuals is in the public interest, or if it has had any real impact on their business performance.

By all accounts, DSK has been a tremendous head of the IMF; charismatic and thoughtful. He turned the IMF from a "talking shop" quango with overpaid officials and over-large egos into a serious debating house, helping Europe sort out its woes. He may be le grand séducteur as the French heroically described him before the latest affair – but did that affect his judgement? I doubt it. If he is proven guilty of a criminal offence, that's quite another matter, and he should be jailed.

Sir Fred and his woes may be a little tamer, but the fuss is just as big, and is possibly being made out of all proportion for the wrong reasons. There's no doubt that the use of super-injunctions is a bad thing, but I do worry that much of the press is expressing moral outrage simply because it leads to titillating headlines rather than on real grounds of public interest.

And that's a pity. It clouds a more important issue – that the authorities have not published the full report into how RBS collapsed. What we want – and are entitled – to know, is how Sir Fred and his board, which included heavy-hitters such as Sir Peter Sutherland, Sir Steve Robson and Sir Tom McKillop, allowed RBS to go bust and to be rescued with $45bn of taxpayers money. I want to see Sir Fred – and the others – explaining this in front of Parliament or a commission. If the internal inquiry into RBS were to show us that Sir Fred's attention had been diverted because of personal problems, then knowledge of his private life might be justified. If not, it's a separate matter.

All this raises fascinating questions about how much we should know about our business leaders, and how they should be called to account. Are their sex lives any more important than other personal issues, such as health? Should investors be given files on cancer-sufferer Steve Jobs of Apple, say, to get the latest on his illness and so know when to sell? Please, no. I don't think so.

En Garde, Sarkozy! If Lagarde loses IMF, she could aim even higher

The hot money is still on Christine Lagarde, France's Economics Minister, to take over from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as head of the International Monetary Fund after his resignation last week, despite calls for the job to go to a non-European. Many of the IMF's members want the job to go to someone from an emerging economy, even though, under the original post-war deal, the top job was to go to a European while the senior World Bank position was to be filled by an American. Lagarde has gained enormous respect for her work during the financial crisis but there are two other factors which may work against her – France has held the IMF job four times already and there is a judicial review into a case she has been involved with. If she isn't chosen, then maybe Lagarde should be persuaded to take another of DSK's presumed roles, that of a candidate to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's election. She's made a name on women's quoas and cutting banker's bonuses; a good start for the campaign.

Even in these Kindle times, savvy businessmen are snapping up book shops

What do Alexander Mamut and John Malone know that we don't? Mamut is the Russian billionaire businessman who has just paid £53m to buy 296 Waterstone's book shops from HMV, while the US billionaire Malone and his Liberty Media group are offering $1bn to buy Barnes & Noble – which, with 720 shops, is America's biggest book chain.

The two bids come just as Amazon, the world's largest seller of books, announced that e-books for its Kindle are outselling itsold-fashioned paper books by two to one, and that it is enjoying the strongest growth for a decade. If electronic books are roaring ahead, why are these two serious businessmen prepared to shell out so much money to take over struggling retailers?

Mamut, who has the backing of founder Tim Waterstone, has already lined up James Daunt of the independent Daunt book shops as his MD, so you can see exactly the sort of shops he's aiming for. And he's right; Waterstone's needs to go back to the beginning to what made it great in the first place; great books, great customer service and great ambience. The attempt by Waterstone's to be all things to all men has unquestionably been a disaster – sales down 11 per cent.

But Mamut must also be thinking about the future too, and, on top of investing in the shops (and maybe closing some) must be thinking about introducing Waterstone's own electronic book. Leonard Riggio, the founder and biggest shareholder in Barnes & Noble, did just this by investing in his own Nook e-reader two years ago. But it hasn't been enough to turn around the finances and that's why he put the business up for sale last year – he didn't want to end up like America's Borders, the colourful book chain that had to file for bankruptcy earlier this year. With Malone's backing, he will be able to invest more and will be revealing more details about the Nook this week.

How refreshing that Mamut and Malone are risking their money with such noble intent.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments