Credit crisis diary: Vodafone boss offers solace to dramatic rival

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The Independent Online

Vittoria Colao, the affable chief executive of Vodafone, doesn't see many green shoots in the telecoms markets, but he remains more upbeat than his counterpart at Telecom Italia. Mr Colao, an Italian himself, admitted that his culture could often be labelled as "theatrical," after some pretty bleak predictions from TI's Franco Bernabe recently. "There are certainly issues in the market," Mr Colao said, and with more than a touch of the theatrical himself added: "But, I really don't think he should be committing suicide over it." While we're on the subject, Voda's accounts reported it was 450,000 customers down this year. This was because it has stopped reporting a particular group of customers with everyone else. Who is this special group? Um, Coke machines and gas meters, which send regular reports back to other machines at HQ. The conversations must be thrilling.

Cook Islands decide not to join the recession

The Cook Islands decided yesterday it will officially "not take part in the worldwide recession". With two thirds of its GDP coming from tourism, it might not have any say in the matter.

Shell protesters get fired up during AGM

Royal Dutch Shell's annual general meeting was picketed – unsurprisingly – by environmental protesters yesterday in the Hague and London. The demonstrators burnt a briefcase with the Shell logo on it, and generally railed against the oil group's practices around the world. At one stage the situation became really fired up, quite literally, as a fire-eater managed to accidentally set his hair on fire. Inside the AGM, management was itself under fire from angry shareholders criticising their pay packets. They should worry.

M&S boss cuts cost of more than the dividend

Marks & Spencer's boss, Sir Stuart Rose, was predicting a riot yesterday as the group gears up for its "Penny Bazaar". To celebrate its 125th birthday, the retailer is to sell up 2 million items for just 1p today. Sir Stuart joked that employees planned to "open the store door and run". It might not just be bargain hunters storming through the doors at opening time. They could well be followed by irate shareholders who have fallen victim to the group's other discount announced yesterday: the dividend, retailing at a third off.