UK: Big business is bountiful.

UK: Big business is bountiful. - Yes, Christmas is upon us once again: the distant ring of sleighbells, the clatter of reindeer's hooves on snow-clad roofs, the gimlet-eyed scrutiny of the financial bottom line in tinselled boardrooms up and down the lan

Yes, Christmas is upon us once again: the distant ring of sleighbells, the clatter of reindeer's hooves on snow-clad roofs, the gimlet-eyed scrutiny of the financial bottom line in tinselled boardrooms up and down the land. So, to help add to the general sense of commercial good cheer, Toady has decided to see which British companies have been well-behaved corporate boys and girls since Santa last visited us 12 long months ago by checking out who has been giving what and to whom during the intervening year.

To make this list scrupulously fair, the elfin helpers at the Toady Centre for Management Studies Outstation, Lapland have decided to base their results on a formula of giving-per-employee rather than on the more usual giving-as-a-percentage-of-profit quotient, and to restrict it to those firms giving away in excess of £1 million a year (See box for details of companies which make up the top 10 and bottom 10 of the list). Why? Well, corporate slips and slides tend to make those firms that are faring badly in the present commercial winter seem unwontedly generous under the old system. Thanks to battered profits at the Big Four banks, for example, the NatWest and Lloyds, each appeared to give away some 10.6% of group profits last year, and we all know how open-handed they are, do we not?

Equally, Gerald Ronson's ever-generous Heron Group would appear even more saintly than it already is in giving away 2.7 times its own post-tax profits (although 2.7 times Heron's profits would hardly fill a decent-sized stocking in these chilly commercial days), while even the more modest donations of loss-makers such as IBM (UK) and the TSB Group would show up as being infinitely bountiful under the old giving-as-a-percentage-of-profit system thanks to the vagaries of corporate profit-and-loss accounting.

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