The financial news continues to be dominated by the Northern Rock saga: Virgin emerged as the bookies’ favourite on Monday after being named preferred bidder, although some interested hedge funds seem keen to upset the apple cart.
But while the Rock continues to be a money pit for the Treasury, other UK banks seemed in much better health. Barclays said it was on course for record profits, while Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley both enjoyed a share price bounce after reporting better-than-expected numbers. Some other bankers had less cause for celebration: the NatWest Three are facing three years in prison (albeit probably in the UK).
The annual CBI conference saw the Tories in a full-on bid for the business vote. David Cameron criticised Labour’s ‘big government’ and promised to lead the opposition to the controversial CGT hike; Chancellor Alistair Darling hinted that he might yet back-track. And one of the big beasts of the private equity jungle, Blackstone boss Stephen Schwarzman, got a mixed reception.
Elsewhere, some unexpected HR news: the Vatican is introducing corporate-style incentives for its staff, Stowells has hired lad’s mag favourite Adele Silva to make its new limited edition wine, and UK workers are putting in longer hours than at any time in the last decade. So why not head for the hills once you've read the MT bulletin? It's for your own good...
But the real highlight of MT’s week was our annual ‘Britain’s Most Admired Companies’ awards in London, where M&S carried off the top prize for the first time in 16 years. Stuart Rose was on hand to take the plaudits for the revitalised retailer, while Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy collected the Most Admired Leader for the fifth year in a row. Perhaps we should let him keep the trophy.