Credit crisis diary: The apprentice turns the tables

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The Independent Online

First Will Young and now Tim Campbell – BBC One’s Question Time continues in its mission to diversify its panel away from the usual gang of dull politicians. No doubt Tim, a former winner of The Apprentice, will have a few ideas for fellow guests, employment minister Tony McNulty and Conservative peer Lord Heseltine. But fellow panellists might like to ask him what has happened to the health and beauty division he set up at Amstrad as part of his prize for winning the show. Since Sir Alan Sugar sold Amstrad to Sky, it seems to have disappeared – there’s certainly no mention of those hair curlers on the website.

Dudley finally comes in from the cold

Good to see BP repaying the loyalty shown to it by Bob Dudley, the former boss of TNK-BP, the oil company’s 50/50 joint venture in Russia. Mr Dudley, who had such a rough time in Moscow while running TNK, is joining the oil company’s main board. Even better, he’ll now be based in London, rather than Russia – so no more oligarchs to deal with.

A new target for Shell to aim at

Shell faces all sorts of challenges in the current environment. Headaches include the calamitous drop in the oil price and the collapse in demand as the global economy slows. But the biggest issue is closer to home – having shut its in-house archery club at its Waterloo HQ, what should Shell do with the vast hall it once occupied? The oil major can’t decide.

Another no-confidence vote in UK credit rating

More bad news from the credit default swap market, which prices the risk of bond issuers defaulting on income and capital payments. Last year, the market was judging that the risk of default on gilts had risen above that of blue-chip companies such as McDonald’s, sparking a series of hysterical headlines. And now the Government’s debt is deemed even more risky than bonds issued by Lloyds, which it part-owns. Scary.

Bark if you like this one

The American hedge fund that disclosed a short-selling interest in the property company Hammerson yesterday is relatively unknown outside the US. But the press will welcome Hound Partners to these shores – it’s another opportunity to dust off those headlines about awful hedge funds dogging our companies.