Elsewhere, it was a week of classic rivalries. Google threw its toys out of the virtual pram over Microsoft’s $45bn bid for Yahoo, moaning that it would be bad for competition. Bad for Google’s hugely dominant position in the online advertising and search markets, more like.
BP has hardly had a good time with its competition either. While ExxonMobil and Shell were reporting the most profitable years in US and UK corporate history, the British giant posted full-year profits down 22% on the previous year. At a time when oil prices are hitting an all-time high. Oops.
Meanwhile, BHP Billiton exercised the opposite approach to competition – pulling out all the stops to try and buy it. It upped its Rio Tinto bid to a massive $147bn, which would make it the second-biggest takeover deal of all time.
But those considering buying up a chunk of a rival should heed the warning of BSkyB – mind what you invest in. The broadcasting giant made a loss for the first time in six years – all because of the dramatic fall in the value of its stake in ITV. Other communications giants aren’t faring too well either. The restructuring BT announced this week that its pre-tax profits fell 30% in the fourth quarter.
Finally there was bad news for those poor beleaguered souls in HR – three-quarters of people now believe their personnel department to be a complete waste of space or positively harmful.
Mike Bacon would perhaps agree. Workers at his French car parts factory held him hostage for two days when they realised he was planning to sell up. Surely that’s not in the HR handbook?
What’s also missing from those sacred pages is the missive: ‘thou shalt be free to pilfer from the company’s supplies’. Apparently 82% of UK workers have stolen from their employer. And more than 25% of us have pinched a laptop from the office to take home for personal use, and ‘forgotten’ to take it back.