The business week in review: Rob Noel, Stelios, Sir Bill Gammell and WH Smith


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The Independent Online

In profit...

For a man who started his career on just £5,850-a-year in the worst of the 1980s bust years, Rob Noel  hasn't done too badly.

The ever-gossipy, perpetually-leaky property industry was taken aback last week when Land Securities, the sector's biggest company, announced that long-standing chief executive Francis Salway will stand down at the end of March. Mr Noel, who heads up the group's lucrative London portfolio of major office schemes, will replace him for a none-too shabby annual pay packet of £680,000.

Despite Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou's continued attempts to unsettle easyJet – he even wrote to David Cameron last week to complain about the board's pay – Carolyn McCall is doing a quietly effective job as chief executive. McCall announced 16.7 per cent revenue growth for the last quarter of 2011.

Former Lloyds boss Eric Daniels has made a comeback as a principal of the advisory firm StormHarbour.

At a loss...

What was supposed to be a big “thank you” turned into a two fingered salute for Sir Bill Gammell, the ex-Scottish international rugby player who has become something of a City grandee since founding Cairn Energy three decades ago.

On Tuesday, investors forced Cairn’s board to drop plans to reward Sir Bill, now the chairman, with £3.5m for negotiating last year’s $5.5bn sale of the oil group’s Indian assets to Vedanta Resources.The critics of executive pay celebrated this rare show of shareholder defiance, but they might want to remember that the deal would have seen Sir Bill donate £1m to charity. The Financial Services Authority fined poker champion David Einhorn and his hedge fund, Greenlight Capital, £7.2m for insider trading in Punch Taverns shares. Einhorn described the fine as “unjust”, but it is difficult to feel sorry for a guy best known for making millions shorting Lehman Brothers prior to the bank’s collapse. High street troubles continued, with WH Smith boss Kate Swann announcing a 5 per cent like-for-like sales drop in the 21 weeks to 21 January.