Business Diary: A Diamond in all the rough?

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The Independent Online

Some good news for Bob Diamond (and goodness knows he could use some): despite all the criticism sent his way Barclays' brand has apparently increased in value by $4.2bn over the past year, at least according to the fifth edition of the BrandFinance Global Banking 500 – an annual review of the world's top banking brands published in trade mag The Banker. It's moved up to seventh place (from tenth) although is still behind HSBC (in third, down from first). The biggest faller will surprise no one: Goldman Sachs which fell from seventh to 16th.

When will South Korea emerge?

Fund manager Barings pops up with a missive explaining that it has decided to shake up its emerging market strategy. The firm says it believes the story of a consumer-led boom, as the citizens of the world's most exciting growth markets get richer, is now "fully valued" in stocks. James Syme, head of global emerging markets, says he's still very keen on South Korea, however, which "shows markedly strong improvement in fundamental prospects". This begs the question: just what does South Korea have to do to rid itself of the patronising "emerging markets" tag?

More on those ratings agencies

Diary laughed at Fitch's rapid reaction to the Egyptian crisis yesterday (it put the country on negative outlook after several days of unrest). Not to be outdone, Moody's chimed in with a full scale downgrade. And the reasoning? Moody's analysts are a tad worried that the Egyptian Government might damage its already weak finances by increasing social spending to calm mass protests. Guys, you do realise there might not be an Egyptian Government to increase social spending this time next week?

Can Kirstie rival cuddly Alan?

DIY chain B&Q trotted out its latest celebrity acquisitions yesterday unveiling television presenters Kirstie Allsopp and George Clarke as the faces of its latest campaign to make DIY easier (note to management – a modicum of customer care would help no end). We doubt their cardboard cut-outs will prove in the same league as those of incumbent star Alan Titchmarsh, though, which would have customers queuing up were they put on sale.