Business: Agenda: Stelios riled by pay rise
(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MAKING THE NEWS
Bumi backers can't see funny side of cash loss
Another week, another round in the interminable Rothschild/Bumi scrap as shareholders vote on Thursday to decide which of the rivals attempts to salvage something from this wreck.
For those who dropped off during the drama, a quick precis: financier Nat Rothschild raised money to float a cash shell and went searching for mining assets in developing economies. Two meetings with some rich Indonesians called the Bakries sufficed, and the banking scion created the London-listed Bumi plc, which acquired a stake in a Bakrie business.
That love-in lasted about as long as the initial meetings, though, and Rothschild suddenly reckoned he'd bought a share in a corrupt firm. The Indonesians disagreed. The two sides have been bickering since.
But aside from all of the squabbling, there's a real issue. Around $1bn has gone missing from the Indonesian businesses in which Bumi has a stake, yet (conveniently for some) many seem more entertained by the spat. Meanwhile, the City's schoolboys amuse themselves with puerile jokes behind Rothschild's back after his supposed new girlfriend chose to be photographed knickerless for some artistic magazine.
Bumi shareholders are unamused by that, knowing it is they who have really had their pants taken down.
Should BAE investors say a farewell to arms
Times are a little tricky if you're an arms dealer. Concerns about the effects of defence cuts have been weighing heavily on suppliers, while it doesn't help if investors are reminded about the sector's occasional penchant for scandal - as they were last week when Giuseppe Orsi, the boss of Italian aerospace and defence firm Finmeccanica, got himself nicked on corruption charges.
So it doesn't look like the best moment for the UK's main defence group, BAE Systems, to be reporting its full-year numbers, as it must do this week - despite there being rumours of good news. The City is half expecting the company to announce a share buyback, which should buoy the price, while analysts muse that the company may have decent export announcements in its sights.
Still, JP Morgan has just started performing reconnaissance on the business and it reckons BAE faces "major structural problems" and is "likely to underperform the sector over the next 12-24 months". Any good news, the bank says, is an opportunity for shareholders to "reduce positions".
Or, in the defence sector's language, retreat.
One last aerial battle at the easyJet AGM
The memory of some personal rivalries endure long after the battles have ceased. Ali/Frazier is obviously one; Wilson/Heath another; and to those legendary encounters we will now add Rake/Haji-Ioannou, which effectively comes to a close this week.
That is, of course, Sir Mike Rake, the chairman of easyJet, and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the budget airline's major shareholder, who for years have been jostling more vigorously than the airline's customers once did as they dashed towards the choice seats.
EasyJet is staging its annual meeting this week, which will be Rake's last as he hands over the company's controls in the summer - with it seemingly destined for the FTSE 100. The meeting is hardly likely to be turbulence-free, however, as Haji-Ioannou has already signalled that he will vote against a pounds 5m package for "overpaid" chief executive Carolyn McCall (formerly of this parish) and he has already attempted to oust Rake, who he blames for the "unjustifiable" pay increases (among other things).
Still, Rake has been rattled, admitting last year "I don't need this, I really don't" after the entrepreneur accused him of being "seriously compromised" by the Libor scandal at Barclays, where he's deputy chairman. God, how these dogfights will be missed.
SONY PRESSES INVESTORS' BUTTONS
Computer gamers don't only get excited by fancy graphics, booming sound effects and the ability to partake in gratuitous violence in their underpants. They also get pretty turned on by seemingly innocuous new gadgets. With an announcement of Sony's PlayStation 4 expected this week, the gaming world got itself into a right old state on Friday after images of the new console's controller appeared online. (No, not the one above.) The big news It had a tiny touchscreen - and, er, that was it.
This may constitute a giant technical development, for all people on planet Earth would know, but what this frenzy demonstrates is that there are plenty of potential customers for Sony to tap - and the Japanese firm could do with a few of those. The music, films and electronics group has been struggling in the face of tough competition and a high yen, but it has just cut quarterly losses to spark hopes of a recovery. Shareholders got ridiculously excited about that too.
Nat Rothschild: still squabbling.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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