Business Diary: Relishing round two of Branson versus Cable

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The Independent Online

Is Sir Richard Branson's Virgin group still in the running for Northern Rock, the nationalised bank that the Government hopes in the not-too-distant future to sell back to the private sector? If so, the bearded one is going to need to get past Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, with whom he has a little form. Only two years ago, the first time Sir Richard had a tilt at buying Northern Rock, Cable questioned in the Commons whether he was a "fit and proper person" to run the bank.

Obama's victory not quite all it seemed?

So well done President Obama for facing down Wall Street and forcing through a package of financial reforms that will finally bring all those awful bankers to book. The great man obviously wasn't fazed by warnings of dire results for American's financial system if he persevered with his proposals. Still, one can't help wondering why, if the new law really does crack down on the banks, shares in leading US financial services institutions all rose so sharply on Friday.

Bookies back BA to get rid of Walsh

Maybe there is hope after all for Unite and the cabin crew staff it represents at British Airways. Though few observers expect the airline to back down in this bitter industrial dispute, it's possible that a change of leadership at the company might help. And as luck would have it, Ladbrokes is offering odds of just 11/10 that Willie Walsh won't make it to the end of the year in the chief executive's suite.

Key contract for Barclays – from Barclays

Finally, we're pleased to report a bit of good news for a change for one of our big banks. Courtesy of the Stock Exchange's regulatory news service, we learn that Barclays Capital has won an important new corporate broker account. A pity that the account in question is for its parent company, Barclays Bank, but every little deal helps.