Credit crisis diary: Rake’s progress (or not, as it turns out)

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The Independent Online

As the chairman of BT, one would expect Sir Michael Rake to be taking full advantage of the company’s gadgets and gizmos: at the very least, he has surely installed the BT home hub, which the telecoms giant spends lots of money advertising on television and elsewhere? Sadly not, as it turns out. It’s not that Sir Michael has no confidence in BT’s excellent suite of broadband products – quite the contrary in fact. It’s just that his home-counties dwelling is a little off the beaten track, and beyond the reach of the current broadband network.

So who got the better deal?

Rio Tinto shareholders’ mood about the mining giant’s decision to raise $19.5bn from Chinalco, rather than investors, will not be improved by the latest news from the Chinese company. Xiao Yaqing, the president of Chinalco, is stepping down from the state-owned company to become deputy secretary general to the Chinese cabinet, the State Council. The promotion, a big one, is a reflection of Mr Xiao’s success in pulling off the Rio deal, say local sources. Rio’s executives meanwhile, may soon be leaving too if some shareholders get their way, but not for quite such positive reasons.

Seeking a heavy hitter

No offence to Luke Mayhew, the new chairman of the British Retail Consortium, but in these tough times, does the retail trade body not need someone with a bit more weight? The BRC’s previous chairman was Sir Geoff Mulcahy, a scion of the industry who for many years ran Kingfisher, then one of the country’s biggest shop groups. Mr Mayhew, by comparison, is chairman of Pets at Home.

The right place at the wrong time

It was good to see the BBC’s North American business correspondent despatched to Antigua for a report on the Allen Stanford scandal for Thursday evening’s BBC News at 10pm. But what a pity that as Greg Wood was broadcasting via a shaky satellite link-up, news was breaking of Stanford’s discovery in Virginia, just round the corner from where the Beeb man is based.

Painting for realists

An invite arrives from Credit Suisse to the new Picasso exhibition coming up at the National Gallery. The title of the exhibition has a certain resonance with Swiss banks now wondering whether their strategies of the past few years were quite so bright. “Challenging the past”, it’s called.