The great and good of UK plc were in attendance at Claridges in London tonight to see BSkyB scoop MT's coveted 'Britain's Most Admired Company' award for 2009. CEO Jeremy Darroch was on hand to pick up the top prize from Haymarket chairman Lord Heseltine, as Sky became our youngest ever winner (the award comes just 20 years into its existence). Meanwhile there was also gongs for Sir Terry Leahy of Tesco - still Britain's Most Admired Leader - and the likes of Johnson Matthey, Cadbury and GlaxoSmithKline (more photos HERE). These are the companies their competitors think are best-placed to ride out the current storm...
MT's annual 'Britain's Most Admired Companies' awards are unique, because they're based on a peer review survey (conducted by Professor Mike Brown of Birmingham City Business School). So the winners aren't chosen by a bunch of judges in a smoke-filled room - they're chosen by the people that know these companies best, i.e. their competitors. And their verdict was that BSkyB - fourth last year - has inched ahead of Tesco and Johnson Matthey to become Britain's best-regarded public company. It's an impressive achievement for such a relatively young business, not least because the media industry as a whole has had such a rotten year (none of Sky's rivals got within thirty points of it).
'BSkyB has shown that a class-leading product, well marketed and slickly delivered, can continue to grow and prosper even in the most challenging circumstances,' said MT editor Matthew Gwyther. 'But perhaps its greatest achievement is the transition from being a new kid on the block and awkward industry outsider to winning over a jury of peers and becoming the UK’s most admired company.'
Around 70 CEOs, chairman and senior execs from the shortlisted BMAC companies gathered for tonight's bash. Former Bank of England deputy governor Sir John Gieve provided the entertainment, regaling us with behind-the-scenes tales from Threadneedle Street (apparently he originally thought the BoE job might turn out to be 'a bit dull' - so much for that). He was admirably frank about the Bank's failings, admitting that he didn't 'bang the table hard enough' when the banks waxed lyrical about their flawless risk management systems, and that the Northern Rock episode was 'clumsily handled'. He also argued the case for an international financial watchdog, although he thinks the chances of this happening are slim.
Still, there was no doubt about the night's big winner: BSkyB is officially Britain's Most Admired. So where does it go from here? 'Now it has to move onto the next phase – out of adolescence and into maturity,' reckons Gwyther. 'The next couple of years will be crucial to BSkyB’s long-term future. But in the meantime it can bask in some deserved glory.' We'll drink to that.
In today's bulletin:
BSkyB is Britain's Most Admired Company 2009
Yorkshire Building Society swallows Chelsea to challenge Nationwide
Google makes peace offering to publishers over online news
Editor's blog: BSkyB goes from zero to hero
Indian firm suffers from employee's watercooler moment