MT's week in 60 seconds

The best of this week's business news: shareholders revolting, leaders sweating and managers lunching...

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

It’s hard work being a corporate leader at the moment (as shown by the fact that most companies consider a good web address to be more important). Ask Sir Stuart Rose, the former darling of the High Street, who suddenly finds himself trying to arrest a slump in UK sales – amid soaring fuel and food prices, we’re all starting to trim our spending – while fighting off shareholder complaints about his elevation to executive chairman. No wonder M&S decided to hike its dividend despite slashing its bonus pool...

Bonus grumbles were also top of the agenda at Shell and GSK – their attempts to bribe some of their top executives not to leave haven’t gone down well with shareholders, who almost voted down the proposals at the respective AGMs this week.

Still, you can’t blame shareholders for being a bit grumpy at the moment. Everywhere they go their companies are asking them for extra cash – if it’s not banks looking to bolster their balance sheets, it’s tobacco companies looking to finance big acquisitions. Microsoft has also been keeping its toe in the M&A water by re-opening talks with Yahoo – perhaps it read a new report that predicts 2008 could be the best ever year for M&A deals

And as Steve Ballmer looks to improve his rather chequered deal record, other corporate big guns have also been worrying about their reputation. Sir Richard Branson has been defending Virgin Trains against complaints about the West Coast Main Line, and JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon is trying to find a home for some of the Bear Stearns bankers he’s about to fire.

But there are some upsides to life at the top: Ladbrokes boss Chris Bell (briefly) organised a BA boycott by his 14,000 staff after the airline bumped his daughter off a flight (we bet she ended up with a few book tokens). And you can always slope off to a job in the public sector if it all gets too much – David Ross and Tim Parker both signed up to work for Boris Johnson this week.

Given that the government is trying to hoover up talent from the private sector, it makes us slightly dubious about its attempts to teach us all how to be better managers. Although they should at least be able to tell us something about taking a longer lunch...

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