Business Diary: Blair’s spin-doctor back on track

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The Independent Online

Planes, trains and automobiles: well, two out of three so far for Tom Kelly who, we hear, is off to Network Rail as director of communications.

It's not the easiest job in the world given the state of Britain's railways, but Kelly currently has the same job at the Financial Services Authority, so he is not unfamiliar with copping a bit of flak, and used to run communications for airports operator BAA. And did we mention that he first rose to prominence as Tony Blair's spokesman at No 10? On second thoughts, Network Rail should be a breeze.

Murdoch's men in the peloton

Half-way through the first week of the Tour de France and does BSkyB feel it is getting better value for its very substantial investment in sponsoring a professional cycling team? Last year, despite high hopes, Sky won nothing at the Tour and saw team leader Bradley Wiggins fail to live up to his pre-race billing as a contender. This year, Sky does have some men close to the top of the rankings, but it has yet to win a stage. Will Rupert Murdoch forgive another year of failure, if and when he gets his hands on Sky?

A familiar face at Northumbrian

Our thanks to the Independent reader who got in touch regarding Sir Derek Wanless. He points out that Sir Derek, now chairman of Northumbrian Water – the subject of a bid from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing following some lacklustre share-price performances – has been through this sort of thing before. He got a mighty pay-off when NatWest, where he was chief executive, fell prey to Royal Bank of Scotland in 1999 (look how that turned out). And guess who was chairman of the risk committee at Northern Rock before it collapsed? Step forward Sir Derek Wanless.

Marketing world's finest go on tour

Have you been wondering about a short summer break somewhere pleasant? If so, what about Reims in France, where the Academy of Marketing Science is holding its 15th World Marketing Congress later this month. We like the idea of 400 folk discussing the theme "the customer is not always right", though "marketing orientation in a dynamic business world", the second half of the theme sounds rather less compelling.