Business Diary: Unilever's Dutchman tells it the way it is
Friday 07 August 2009
Paul Polman, the Dutch chief executive of Unilever, who took the helm in January, is a refreshing change to the sterilised, PR-driven management speak of most bosses. Yesterday, he treated journalists to a series of "Polmanisms" that included calling himself a "sucker"; "easy-squeezy-Japanesey"; "peeling the onion"; "Amsterdam was not built in a day"; and "an early bird does not make a summer". Mr Polman, a "magpies fan" only came a cropper, when he said that Newcastle United were in the "second division", which prompted a PR intervention. Oh well, some things never change.
AIG surge prompts Wall Street whodunit
Robert Benmosche is good, but he's not that good. The American insurance industry veteran was tapped earlier this week to run AIG, and the company's shares doubled in 36 hours. Surely some mistake? The bailed-out insurer, which is majority owned by the US government, is hardly worth twice as much as it was two days ago, so the volatility in its shares has prompted a Wall Street whodunit. There were odd movements, too, in those other nationalised financial firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The suspicion is the craziness began when a single investor took off a big bet against these penny stocks. If only fixing AIG was this easy.
Hotmail blocks porn... and Securities body
The International Organisation of Securities Commissions brings together city watchdogs from around the world. So how is that hotmail's filters identify e-mails hailing from it as spam? The operation's sun loving spokesman David Cliffe says cheeky fraudsters had used its initials for the name of a company involved in a boiler room scam. It proved an unwise move as they were swiftly tracked down.
Grade proves he not one of the history boys
ITV boss Michael Grade was quizzed on the disastrous acquisition of Friends Reunited, which the broadcaster sold at a loss of £150m. On a press call, Mr Grade snapped: "There's no point in commenting on it, we have sold the business. It's history." Yet the results actually covered the period of the six months to the end of June, while Friends Reunited was sold only yesterday.
Number of the day: 104.7p
The closing share price of Lloyds Banking Group – the first time since January it has been above 100p.
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