Business Diary: Hester plays down PPI scandal

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The Independent Online

Does Royal Bank of Scotland's insistence that it has no way to quantify its total exposure to the payment protection insurance debacle (Lloyds revealed on Thursday that it has put £3.2bn aside to cover the cost to it of the scandal) reflect the fact that senior management at the bank still haven't quite cottoned on to the seriousness of the matter?

"I do think PPI was not the industry's finest hour," conceded the bank's chief executive, Stephen Hester, yesterday in what must be one of the understatements of the year.

Helphire suffers a nasty slip-up

Condolences to Helphire (and its shareholders) for the nasty profits warning it was forced to publish yesterday. And don't blame the company too much – it's a victim of the economicclimate. With petrol prices at all-time highs, people aredriving less, you see, which means fewer accidents forHelphire to help clear up. Just one thought – what about all that horrible snow and ice back at Christmas time? Should that not have led to a spike in motor insurance claims, and more calls for the services ofHelphire, in the new year?

For the Ryanair suggestions box

We don't want to give Ryanair any hints but the Indian airline Spicejet has come up with an idea of which the Irish budget carrier would be proud. It has begun advertising its ticket prices net of fuel charges (which, naturally, still have to be paid as a compulsory extra). This has enabled it to advertise flights from Delhi to Chennai, for example, for just R200 (£2.72) compared to the R4,900 its rival Kingfisher charges. The price rises to R3,400 with the fuel charge added back in. Cheeky maybe, but at least if you're stuck on the tarmac for hours, you're presumably entitled to a refund on petrol costs?

The 'Man' woman of Lancashire

Our congratulations to Joanna Davies, the logistics manager at Advance Uranium AssetManagement in Preston, Lancashire, who has just picked up a prestigious trophy – Woman of the Year in the Transport and Logistic Awards. Curiously, the gong Ms Davies has won is sponsored by lorry manufacturer Man, so she is actually the "Man Woman of the Year". It's a weird world.