Business Diary: In sickness and then in wealth

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The Independent Online

You've got to give some companies credit. At the height of the swine flu scare, businesses were queuing up to give advice on protecting staff and so on. Now people's fears have abated some businesses still want to cash in. AXA Icas, the insurer's "employee assistance" business is now hawking its wares – in particular its absenteeism expertise. Handy to catch all those swine flu skivers.



Grade forced to eat his words

Fancy a giggle? Check out back issues of Media Week. We like this snippet from an interview two years ago: "The likes of Facebook are very successful, but they're trendy. They're cool today, but somebody will be cooler tomorrow. They'll be dead in the water. Friends Reunited will always be there." The interviewee? Step forward Michael Grade, left, who sold the site at a £150m loss for ITV last week.



Keeping those who matter sweet

Good to see Santander wants to keep key stakeholders sweet. For many years, Bradford & Bingley has sponsored awards for personal finance journalists, who often wrote about the mortgage lender. Since its troubles, the sponsorship has been junked. But the hacks need fear not, Santander is stepping in, promising a party at this year's awards do.



The boss should be happy

Good to see everyone singing from the same songsheet at News International. Rupert Murdoch swore last week to turn his papers' web sites into pay vehicles, despite fears that readers would simply turn to the free BBC site should they do that. No connection, naturally, to a Sunday Times editorial two days previous slamming the BBC for its ventures into commercial territory.



Staying on this side of the channel

Times must be really tough if even the locals can't be persuaded onto a cross-channel ferry. Department store John Lewis says it is benefiting from the "staycation" trend of people taking time off at home rather than heading overseas. Its best-performing shop thanks to the trend is Southampton.

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