Charles Pretzlik: Darling in frame at last on Rock

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At last, Alistair Darling has been placed where he belongs at the centre of the Northern Rock mess. In an interview with the BBC, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said it was the chancellor who made the final decision not to support an attempt by Lloyds TSB to take over Northern Rock. This doesn’t, of course, mean it was the wrong decision but it’s good that those who took it should account for it.

For a very easy and quick guide to what Mr King said, go to the FT Alphaville where they have organised his remarks by topic.

In corporate news, Marks and Spencer, unveiling first half results, looked disappointing at first because of the decline in UK like-for-like sales but a surprise £1bn share buy-back went down well as did the analysts’ presentation from Stuart Rose. The shares, flat initially, are now up 3½ per cent.

SMG is seeking to raise £95.1m through a deeply discounted rights issue and has put its sale of Virgin Radio on hold.

Bovis Homes says it expects house sales and prices to fall. No big shock there. Shares down a bit.

Associated British Foods increased full-year profits by 10 per cent thanks to strong performances at Primark and its international sugar businesses. Just as well as Kingsmill bread business lost money and there were lower profits at British Sugar. The weak dollar didn’t help either.

Finally, many FT readers will have been disappointed not to read about Gisele Bündchen’s decision not to accept payment in dollars, as reported elsewhere. I’m afraid we made the mistake of checking the story with her agent, who denied it. However, there is such a thing as the Gisele Bundchen Stock Index, created by economist Fred Fuld.

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