Shocks & Stares » Glencore H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 en hourly 1 FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 03 Feb 2012 17:59:33 +0000 David Chambers Hello All, and welcome to our latest edition of the Financial and Professional Services Friday Fiver. Two things have happened in the UK this week – firstly, it’s been very, very cold. And secondly, corporate Britain has turned into something of a witch hunt. There’s more on that below, as well as our thoughts on Facebook, Mega mergers and a new magazine launch for our sector. Happy weekend everyone, and stay warm.

THE BUSINESS OF FRIENDSHIP…..“It is a good thing to be rich… but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends.” Euripides

A wise quote, but of course if you’re Mark Zuckerberg you have all of the above. This week Facebook announced its much anticipated Initial Public Offering. It may not be the biggest IPO, of recent years but it’s likely to be a theme of the business pages for many weeks to come. The company is looking to tap up investors for $5bn but the investment community is divided both on the rationale for the listing, as John Gapper explains in today’s FT [recommended read] and also the long-term investment case for the company.

Whatever the merits of the decision, it can be easy to forget the wealth that start-up businesses create, particularly when they experience success on the scale of Facebook. We were warmed to hear the tale of the graffiti artist who took stock instead of cash for painting the company’s office. The value of the stock could now be worth as much as $200 million. All in a day’s work…

SICK (MEDIA) NATIONS…..This weekend sees the beginning of the RBS Six Nations. England approach the tournament as fourth favourites, humbled by their world cup exit and off the field escapades. Ireland are third favourites and will be without their talismanic skipper Brian O’Driscoll. And Wales, so often the nearly men of northern hemisphere rugby (sorry Rach), lie second in the odds, without their impressive and youthful fly half Rhys Priestland. The French once again lead the pack.

La Tribune has ditched its daily print edition

But unlike their rugby team, it seems the French print media landscape is in a more rapid decline than ours. This week saw the last ever daily print edition of La Tribune, one of the leading economic newspapers in France. It will be replaced by a weekly print edition and an active website – of course. Established in January 1985, it was read by CEOs, managers, professionals, political and institutional decisions makers for twenty-seven years.

The success of the website and the weekly edition will no doubt be closely monitored by the British print media. As in the rugby, the question is, when will England take a lead from the French? The closure of the News of the World, the Leveson inquiry and the emergence of ‘i’, ‘Britain’s fastest growing quality newspaper’ no less, suggests the long mooted change in our media landscape is a foot. Quite who will win the sweepstake however is anybody’s guess.

ECONOMY, ECONOMI, ECONOMIA…..Not all print titles seem doomed however – this week, Ed and Dave attended the launch of the ICAEW’s new magazine, ‘Economia’ (thanks for the champagne and chocolates guys, we loved it!). The inaugural edition certainly featured a grand line-up of interviews and contributors, and it will be interesting to see if the magazine can maintain the high standard it’s set itself in future editions. However, there must have been one or two nervous faces on Tuesday evening as the front cover was unveiled – perhaps not the greatest timing….

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – ENJOY IT…..Our annual cold snap arrived with a bang this week and the forecast for the weekend is decidedly of the ‘icy-white’ variety. Then again, according to The Times’ Eureka magazine this week, we’d better enjoy the pretty white stuff while we can. Snow it seems, is in danger of becoming as rare as a snow leopard within the next 50 years or so as global warming takes a grip. While the debate over warming continues to take precedence over actual action, there are some upsides to a less snowy/icy planet, not least the opening of the Northwest Passage and access to the Arctic’s oil, gas and mineral reserves – something that a newly merged Xstrata/Glencore would undoubtedly look to get to grips with…

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..As it turns out, it’s been a good week for shareholders, and in particular, anyone with a FTSE tracker fund. As the BBC’s Hugh Pym noted a short time ago, the FTSE100 closed up this week at 5,901 – the highest the index has been since July last year. Will it last? Perhaps not, but for a brief moment at least, pension pots and stocks & shares ISAs are looking a little rosier.

On the bad week front, it’s hard to look past anyone sitting in the chief exec or chairman’s seat on a large company’s board really. The combination of Stephen Hester’s bonus backdown and (Sir) Fred Goodwin’s ‘de-robing’ have caused some commentators to speculate that Britain is now ‘closed for business’. With reporting season still in full flow, the pay gauntlet is looking increasingly long and spiky for company bosses for at least the next four weeks.

]]> 0
FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 26 Aug 2011 16:21:25 +0000 Edward Jones Friday Fiver

Good afternoon and welcome to this week’s Friday Fiver. Thanks to Clare, Sallie, Dave and Jo for contributions. Conscious of your likely yearning to get out of the office and enjoy your Bank Holiday, we’ve tried to keep this one brief.


Up for the Jobs?


Waking up to the 6am news on the Today programme yesterday to hear that Steve Jobs had resigned as CEO from the company he founded, I was struck by the fact that one man’s resignation could make global news. It made me wonder how many other resignations – aside from those that take place in the political world – would garner so much interest. My conclusion was: not many! It then got me thinking about how many CEOs I could name from other technology companies. And the answer was none. So what is it about Steve Jobs that helped him capture the world’s imagination?

Like the rest of the world, I have fallen under the spell of a range of products that have not only made my life easier (I do not know what I would do without my iPhone) but products that enhance it because, to be frank, I think they are beautiful. It strikes me that this is the genius at the core of Steve Jobs and the company that he built in his own image.

Apple’s share price has remained largely stable after an initial blip following Job’s announcement. Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, now has the unenviable task of keeping the share price where it is (if not higher) whilst fusing beauty and simple functionality for high spec new technologies that the world awaits with baited breathe.

It makes me wonder whether Tim Cook has the best job in the world – or the worst?

More good news…

Picture: The Times

Two surveys featured in the Times this week have blown out of the water hopes of an export led recovery. The first is Barclays Corporate’s survey of 664 UK based business leaders which suggests a lack of ambition to export, particularly among small businesses. The same survey reveals that 79 per cent surveyed expect foreign ownership of British assets to soar in the next decade.

The ippr think tank have published a second survey suggesting the UK now accounts for 3 per cent of global exports and of those exports only 7 per cent are going to the BRIC countries.

Social Impact Bonds

The Government this week launched a new pilot scheme to encourage investors to fund Social Impact Bonds. The Government believes up to £40million could be raised for the four pilots in Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, Birmingham and Leicestershire. The money raised will go towards tackling family problems. If successful, meaning families are taken out of deprivation and crucially, off state dependence, investors will be rewarded by the state ‘with a decent return.’

It seems another bold move for the ever elusive big society agenda, but one which we will reserve judgement on for the time being.

Good Week/Bad Week…..

At the moment, if you’re involved in the commodities world, you’re generally not doing too bad, especially if your involved in gold – despite a slight drop off, it’s still trading at a premium price. If you’re involved in commodities and you work for Glencore, chances are you’re doing even better. This week the company announced its first results since being floated earlier this year. First-half revenues were up a third, meaning bumper share dividend payouts for workers holding shares following the float.

If on the other hand, you used to be involved in the banking world and have now moved into architecture, it was a less good week. Sir Fred Goodwin’s had a fair kicking over the past three years, and this week it got even worse. A new book (with the rather witty title ‘Masters of Nothing’) reveals how ‘Fred the Shred’ terrified staff with angry rants over the colour of his favourite commodity – biscuits (pink as opposed to a dour Scottish blue he hungered for I suspect). Our advice to Sir Fred – go for the trusty bourbon. It never fails.

Who said training had to be dull?

Having spent a weekend in the beautiful town in the province of North Holland known as Bergen (and I wouldn’t even bother trying to pronounce this unless you are a native Dutch speaker, like Jo ;) my faith has certainly been restored  into what I’m sure many of us find a necessity when working for a major cooperation.

In 72 hours,  I slept for about 10,  met over 30 likeminded and brilliant people from all across Europe, watched a comedy show on social media (Boom Chicago in case you are now interested), visited the most beautiful beach I have ever been to…in the North of Europe, used The Dutch main transport system, aka a bike, by cycling 10km in the dark, learnt what Pecha Kucha (I wouldn’t try and pronouncing this either) means and within 2 hours was using this exact technique to pitch to a panel of directors. I learnt more in these 72 hours than I did during my three years at university and  finally challenged and motivated myself more than I ever thought possible. All at H&K Europe’s Summer School 2011!

And finally, what if…

…You had the option to send a hologram to work instead of yourself? Would you do it? What if it could predict how you might react in certain situations? What you might say? What if its behaviour was purely based on your online life? Your YouTube likes, Facebook comments or Twitter posts? All of this is not so far away… so watch what you say online now as it might become the basis of a future you! And then, watch this 5 minute video to find out more.

]]> 0