Friday, 27 May 2011

The sad tale of Cadbury's (continued)...

You could have predicted it. The huffing and puffing about 'contempt of parliament' by the business select committee whose invitation to appear has been turned down yet again by Irene Rosenfeld, chief executive of Kraft.

Now there's a real risk that Kraft will transfer more of Cadbury's marketing and brand management to Zurich, Switzerland. Isn't that the home of Nestle?

See my previous post on this from March 2011

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Like father, like son

I see Sir Martin Sorrell's son, Mark, a thirtysomething recently tipped as one to watch in the City, has become joint head of Goldman Sachs's UK investment banking division.

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Thursday, 26 May 2011

London and Shanghai; the world's future financial centres?

Stuart Fraser, is policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation and a member of the Shanghai International Advisory Council.

He is in no doubt that China will create a financial services industry that reflects its global standing (City A.M. 23rd May), and that it is in the UK's interest to help it develop, and to foster a move to greater openness, predictability and stability.

When I was at the Business School in Cambridge early this year, I sat with a mathematics and statistics post-graduate from Shanghai. He was very clear on his career path: to work for the City of London, because it is the best in the world, and most developed, then head back to his homeland, to take his learning with him.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Does Twitter mood predict the stock market?

According to Johan Bollen, a professor of informatics at Indiana University, it does.

City AM's Craig Drake reports how Bollen's research paper, titled "Twitter mood predicts stock market" claims an 87 per cent accuracy rate at predicting the movements of the Dow.

That's why Derwent Capital Markets have bought the exclusive rights for the use of Bollen's analytics program via a licensing agreement with Indiana University. The hedge fund has also hired Professor Bollen, along with co-author of the study Huina Mao, as consultants.

Last week, they launched the world's first social-media-based hedge fund, claiming expectations of a yield 15 to 20 per cent returns.

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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Boris's bikes

I know Boris has been trumpeting the success of London's Barclays bikes scheme, but I was keen to find out the facts. So I was pleased to see Ross Lyndall's story in the Evening Standard last Friday.

We are now 9 months into the programme, which cost £140 billion to set up. It was launched last July. There are now 39 docking stations - slightly below the promised 400. The latest statistics reveal that:

- About 120,000 have taken out membership, paying up to £48 a year for a key fob that releases a bike.

- About 10,000 of these members use a bike each day.

- About 10,000 non-members, or even a few more, are also using the bikes each day by paying £1 a day or £5 a week.

- The busiest docking stations are around Hyde Park.

- The busiest users are tourists.

- Even including the tourists the scheme is one third down against the TfL target of 30,000 journeys a day.

I wonder what it's done for the Barclays brand? Can anyone tell me?

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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Is Britain less rich than we think?

Of the 73 Billionaires in the Sunday Times rich list, published last week, only 43 are Britons, writes Chris Blackhurst in the Evening Standard this week.

If you look at the shape of the FTSE 100, the same pattern is true: new listings are mainly from non-British businesses. Among the top 50 Billionaires there are now only 2 genuine British-based manufacturing fortunes: J.C.Bamford and Sir James Dyson.

Will the non-Brits stay with us? It's a big question for our economy.

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Monday, 16 May 2011

Is this another brand bubble?

LinkedIn floated last week at 214 times its 2010 profit of $15.4m. Significantly cheaper than its Chinese equivalent Renren. But would you consider a sound investment a brand which claims in its float prospectus "we expect our revenue growth rate to decline, and, as our costs increase, we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to sustain our profitability over the long term". Interesting comments in FT's Lex and The Week.

Microsoft also paid $8.5bn for Skype. Was it worth it? Informed commentators like Steve O'Hear on TechCrunch think not. Almost twice the amount Google was offering. More bravado than business sense?

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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Let the Chinese eat what they can afford?

According to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group food brands, quick service chains and grocery retailers stand to benefit from a huge surge in sales across China. They describe this trend as an "unprecedented shift" in eating habits, largely fuelled by higher disposable incomes.

However, though productivity levels are expected to increase, there is also a genuine risk of price inflation all the way through the price chain and those suppliers who cannot act flexibly or nimbly risk losing out altogether if they are unable to keep up with rapidly changing spending patterns on food.

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