Business Diary: Cheap shop from pound-shop boss

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For Nadir Lalani, the boss of a pound-store empire, the chance to embarrass Ed Balls must have felt like an open goal yesterday. With those football pictures everywhere, Lalani, the chief executive of 99p Stores, noticed Balls's announcement that Labour favoured an immediate cut in VAT to kick-start the UK's economic recovery – and accused the shadow Chancellor of pinching it from an article published hours earlier to which he had contributed a similar idea. Still, whether Lalani knew it or not, Balls has been making this argument for months – and Labour's man might just point out that 99p Stores is hardly the most original idea either.

UBS's loss is Leeson's gain

Not many winners have emerged from the UBS rogue trader scandal, but Nick Leeson is one. The man who brought down Barings Bank has been much in demand for the insights he can offer on such matters – now he has been signed up by Insurance Times for a spot of public speaking at its forthcoming Global Leaders Forum. Leeson will be the star of the show at the session on regulation and risk.

Umunna takes fight to the City

Our compliments to Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP, who appears to have achieved the impossible: getting City types to question their own importance. Umunna was one of the speakers at this week's Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment annual debate, on the topic of "The City: Asset or Liability?" After he'd finished with the 300-strong audience of financial folk, Cisi measured a 17.5 per cent swing in opinion away from the view that their profession was a huge asset to the country.

Backdraft for new dragon

The new series of Dragons' Den has upset Richard Hillgrove, who has worked on PR for past and present dragons including Duncan Bannatyne, James Caan and Simon Woodroffe. He is less than impressed with Hilary Devey, the latest addition to the panel. "Now the show verges on road-crash television," he complains. "Devey... has lowered the tone of the show – the dragons have always been rather guarded about their personal lives, but Devey is happy to tell all about her son's heroin addiction."