When news broke the other day that Marks and Spencer was selling its Hong Kong operation to Al-Futtaim, City Insider spotted a connection. This, seemingly, was a cosy deal between M&S and its former chief exec, Stuart Rose. The retail veteran had spent much of his time in charge of M&S (2004-10) rebuilding its global presence including expanding its Hong Kong operations. Current boss Steve Rowe is in retreat mode, choosing to sell its 25 stores there to franchise partner Al-Futtaim.
Rose, for some time chairman of the retail operations of Majid Al-Futtaim, could now boast of a network of 72 M&S stores across the Middle East and Asia, to add to the group’s vast Carrefour estate. Except, as Rose explained to City Insider, it’s Majid’s cousin Omar — boss of the unrelated Al-Futtaim group — who has done the M&S deal. Nothing to do with Rose’s Majid Al-Futtaim group. Time perhaps for the cousins to link up, and tap Rose’s nous.
Helena Morrissey: Granny H
Christmas is a big deal in the Morrissey family. Twenty-three years ago, Mum Helena (aka City “superwoman”, founder of the 30% Club and former boss of Newton Asset Management) gave birth to one of her nine children, Flo, on Christmas Day. Against the odds (133,225 to one by City Insider’s unsophisticated reckoning), folk musician Flo has now given birth to her own child (Julian), also on Christmas Day. Fellow musician Benjamin Clementine is the delighted dad. Granny H has been proudly posting pics on Twitter, alongside tweets pushing her pro-Brexit and sometimes conservative views (backing a new Royal Yacht, retweeting Fox News stories, et al). But Morrissey is as progressive as ever on her pro-women agenda. Next month, to mark the centenary of women getting the vote, she launches her book, A Good Time to be a Girl — a prescription for ending the patriarchy. Bad luck, Julian.
Robey Warshaw: Money men
Boutiques like Robey Warshaw are jealously viewed by many of their peers still stuck in the big investment bank behemoths, where bureaucracy and regulation rule and (relative) restraint on pay is a post-crisis watchword. Results just filed with Companies House will only stoke the envy. The dynamic duo of Simon Robey and Simon Warshaw (ably assisted by COO Philip Apostolides) racked up turnover of £72.7m in the year to last March, thanks to advising on some of the biggest deals around (the $100bn SABMiller/Anheuser Busch fusion for one). More than £63m of that goes to the three partners — or an average of £21m apiece.
Adam Smith: Fat cat fan
Not many corporate bosses can compete with the Robey Warshaws of the world. Still, the UK’s High Pay Centre has rolled out its gimmick of recent years to highlight the vast pay gap between CEOs and staff. Thursday marked what the lobby group called Fat Cat Thursday — by January 4 your average FTSE 100 CEO has already earned the UK’s median wage of £28,758. The ratio of boss to staff pay is 120:1.
Jeremy Corbyn seized on the data, pledging a Labour government would roll out maximum pay ratios. Sam Dumitriu from the Adam Smith Institute lambasted all the criticism, though. “It is a mistake to fret about executive pay packets,” he railed. But he could have chosen better back-up evidence than Steve Ballmer, the mediocre Microsoft boss, now worth $37bn. Microsoft’s market cap jumped £20bn the day Ballmer left, Dumitriu noted — proving how vital it was to pay him so well. Er, no.
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