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Business News

The City Diary: Silence on Allam's past

Egyptian-born Assem Allam is often dubbed "one of East Yorkshire's most successful businessmen" and it might be true as he's said to be worth £185m. He's been in the news lately after announcing his takeover of Hull City FC, so cue lots of publicity along the lines of: "his track record in business suggests he is a man who knows what he wants and just how to get it".

Well, not always. A 1992 edition of Lloyd's List reports: "Efforts to sell Hull-based Ruscador Shipyard as a going concern have failed.... Ruscador was a wholly owned subsidiary of Tempest Diesels, a Lincolnshire firm headed by Assem Allam.... Financial difficulties besetting Tempest Diesels led to Ernst and Young being called in to administer both companies.... The cessation of operations [resulted in] the redundancy of the company's entire workforce of more than 50."

Why has this detail been forgotten? We may never know. Allam's spokesman does not return my calls.

Dublin eulogy

Michael O'Leary, as you've never seen him before. The vermin under his nose is actually a moustache, apparently grown as part of a charity appeal which astonishingly has nothing to do with Ireland. Michael is pictured at the timely opening of Dublin airport's terminal two on Friday, carrying a coffin as "the airport's €1.2bn T2 white elephant officially marks the death of Irish tourism," as he puts it. "It is fitting that this unnecessary Taj Mahal will now become the welcome lounge for IMF officials at Dublin airport," he adds. "The country is bankrupt. The only way out of this is an IMF solution and, frankly, the sooner the better". Ryanair, of course, is quite partial to a state subsidy itself.

A new colour for Bono

Saint Paul Hewson – aka rocker Bono – now devotes much of his time to making poverty his story, and has launched a number of world-saving initiatives including Data (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa) and Product Red. But, I wonder, might now be the time to consider another push to eliminate Third World debt, with a Product Green?

Solidarity of shame

Steven Rattner, President Obama's former car czar, has paid $6m to settle pension charges and will be barred from the securities industry. His last public appearance seems to have been an interview given to Henry Blodget, the former analyst turned commentator, who side-stepped any awkward questions. Such solidarity! In 2003 Blodget was also banned from Wall Street, in his case for life.

Young leads by example

It is clearly unsustainable to lose a Government adviser every time they say something stupid, but credit to Lord Young for providing business with a lead. When he took the job as enterprise adviser, the peer remarked: "Firms are inhibited from taking people on if it's too difficult to let them go". Quite.