Does Unilever have a Facebook feed? Does the consumer goods group upload images to Apple Photos? If so, Paul Polman, chief executive of the Anglo-Dutch giant, is probably not finding the “Memories From One Year Ago” function terribly enjoyable, writes Matthew Vincent. It can only be showing him selfies of Kraft Heinz and Warren Buffett – and reminding him that we’re just a year on from their aggressive £115bn bid for the entire Unilever business.
If Carillion’s former directors, pension trustees, auditors or even pension regulators were hoping the news agenda might have moved on by now, Opening Quote has news for them. And it’s not good news, writes Matthew Vincent. This week, the Work and Pensions Select Committee is turning its attention to the collapsed construction group’s pension scheme funding – and the committee chairman has already accused the management of spending ten years trying to “wriggle out” of its pension obligations.
When does the alternative become mainstream? To dedicated followers of music, it never can and it never should – as those mourning the death of Mark E Smith of The Fall have been noting this morning (even his acclaimed 1985 album This Nation’s Saving Grace was described as “just on the edge of the mainstream” by The Guardian). To dedicated followers of fashion, though, it’s not a life-long distinction, writes Matthew Vincent. Especially not with online fashion pioneer Asos still trading on the Alternative Investment Market – but commanding the market value of a blue-chip FTSE 100 company.
Still got the back-to-work blues? What’s wrong with you? It might only be January 4, but the City’s finest have already successfully implemented – or partly waived – 1.7m paragraphs of new Mifid II regulations, and earned as much as the average employee does all year, writes Matthew Vincent. And it’s almost the weekend again!
Compass Group will not be the only company to feel the loss of Richard Cousins, its chief executive who died on Sunday, writes Matthew Vincent. When, last September, Cousins announced his intention to step down as chief executive of the FTSE 100 caterer after 11 years, the FT Lombard column was not alone in suggesting others could have benefited from his food for thought. Not least Tesco, from which he had earlier resigned over an objection to its proposed Booker acquisition.
For Ladbrokes Coral shareholders this morning, it is not so much a case of Christmas coming early, as a bid coming early, writes Matthew Vincent. GVC Holdings’ wish to buy the High Street bookmaker has been known for months – it has been the worst kept secret in the the FTSE 250. But most people expected the two companies would wait until the outcome of the government review of fixed odds betting terminals – the high-stakes machines that deliver a majority of Ladbrokes’ retail revenues.
Marketing types have seized on a quiet Friday for corporate reporting to make an attention-grabbing announcement on the London Stock Exchange’s RNS company news service this morning: “Opportunity to advertise on an iceberg”. “Be the first ever company or individual to have your advertising appear on a real North Atlantic Iceberg and watch as your message goes viral. You’ve heard the expression “it’s only the tip of the iceberg;” be the first to own this expression,” it reads.
Royal Mail’s best result in the last half year has arguably been staving off industrial action ahead of the vital Christmas period, writes Matthew Vincent. It seems the Communication Workers Union – which was disputing pension changes and pay – had not realised a pre-strike mediation agreement was legally binding.
Ladbrokes Coral is updating the market in week two of a 12-week regulatory consultation period that will decide the future of UK betting shops, writes Matthew Vincent. If the government listens to campaigners rather than bookies, and imposes the maximum cut to stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals, hundreds – possibly thousands – of high-street outlets could close, so reliant are they now on these in-store machines.
Marks & Spencer’s seemingly ever-earlier launch of its Christmas TV advert has long been a source of delight to the middle classes and indignation to middle-aged commentators, writes Matthew Vincent. In fact, first sightings of ‘Paddington and the Christmas visitor’ on November 6, a new ad featuring the Peruvian emigre bear, caused one contemporary of Opening Quote to despair: “Just thrown away the Halloween pumpkins and the Christmas ads have started…”.
Is there nothing Disney cannot do? writes Matthew Vincent in this morning’s FT Opening Quote. It has held talks about taking over Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, including the US group’s stake in UK-based Sky. It has rescued the Star Wars film franchise from the cringe-inducing antics of Jar-Jar Binks in all those tedious prequels. And now, it seems, it has helped Primark-owner Associated British Foods boost its annual profit by 22 per cent, with a range of keenly-priced Minnie Mouse accessories and strangely persistent press coverage.