Alex Brummer on Business

The machers who built UK plc

By Alex Brummer, November 5, 2009

For decades ‘Gussies’, Great Universal Stores shares, along with those of M&S, formed the core of private share portfolios. Those who hung onto their GUS shares are now the proud owners of three top FTSE companies: fashion group Burberry, the catalogue shopping and DIY concern Home Retail Group and credit checking giant Experian.

More..

If anyone can save us, Strauss-Kahn

By Alex Brummer, October 22, 2009

As the world has sought to recover from the great panic of last autumn and the calamitous drop in asset prices, trade and output, no one has been more important in driving recovery than the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

A suave Frenchman, with matinee idol looks, Strauss-Kahn has shown a radicalism previously unknown among IMF leaders.

More..

Kraft's kosher queen will boost Cadbury

By Alex Brummer, October 8, 2009

Irene Rosenfeld is as far from the traditional image of the all-powerful, all-conquering American boardroom tycoon that you can imagine. Yet, as chairman and chief executive officer of Kraft — the food company with revenues of $42bn and 98,000 employees — she is just one of 12 women CEOs running a top 500 US corporation. Forbes magazine has listed her among the ten most powerful women in the world for two years running.

More..

Jury out on whether Bernanke saved USA

By Alex Brummer, September 9, 2009

American presidents rarely gamble with the Federal Reserve Board, America’s central bank, and Barack Obama is no exception. So despite a strong Democratic claim to the job of chairman by Obama’s top economic adviser Lawrence Summers — scion of one of America’s most famous economic dynasties — “Helicopter” Ben Bernanke has been nominated to a second term in the most powerful job in global finance.

More..

Pensions deficit will be close call for BT

By Alex Brummer, August 27, 2009

As chief executive of British Telecom, Ian Livingston is having a baptism of fire. The main focus of his first year in office has been cleaning up the mess at “global services” — the group’s growth business which foolishly underpriced communications contracts to big corporate and government clients.

Glasgow-born Livingston, 44, acted quickly to clear up that problem and put global services back on a sounder footing. He is now having to deal with an even bigger and more troublesome legacy — the group’s pension fund.

More..

Bernanke: undoing what another Jew started?

By Alex Brummer, August 13, 2009

As Wall Street bankers and legislators headed to their yachts and the beaches of America’s east coast this August, they had the words of Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, ringing in their ears. Two years after the official beginning of the credit crunch on August 9, 2007, Mr Bernanke — America’s most powerful economic policymaker — signalled for the first time that the US central bank may soon have to think about removing the “punch bowl” of near-zero interest rates and easy credit.

More..

How Goldman Sachs came roaring back

By Alex Brummer, July 30, 2009

We have been around for 140 years, and intend to be here for another 140 years, a senior London-based Goldman Sachs banker informed me the other day. Amid the carnage among the global investment banks, Goldman has emerged from the credit crisis least damaged and most defiant.

More..

Sir Philip's grand designs for Bhs

By Alex Brummer, July 16, 2009

At 57 years old and several billion pounds to the good, you might think that retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green would be thinking of hanging up his boots. But the burly tycoon who five years ago was rebuffed in his effort to takeover Marks & Spencer is as restless and ambitious as ever.

Whereas many retailers are struggling to survive the slump, he is anxious to expand. Indeed, he is as ambitious now to take his retail empire to the next level as at any time since he took control of Bhs in 2000 and Arcadia — then run by his mate Stuart Rose — in 2002.

More..

Not just any broiges. An M&S broiges

By Alex Brummer, July 2, 2009

To mark the 125th anniversary of Marks & Spencer, executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose commissioned a glossy “coffee table” history, replete with accounts of the retailer’s innovations down the decades.

More..

TV turmoil will take Sky to a new high

By Alex Brummer, June 18, 2009

I bumped into James Murdoch at a party recently and he was in chipper mood.

At a time when both the writing and broadcast media are struggling, as a result of an advertising famine, the UK arm of the Murdoch empire looks to be emerging stronger than ever.

Much of the recent success can be attributed to Murdoch the younger, the likely heir to Rupert Murdoch’s empire , who at the end of 2007 stepped up to become the chief executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, and chairman of BritishSkyBroadcasting.

More..