August 8: So, he’s finally going. Charles Allen has told our media editor, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, that he wants to be remembered more for Prime Suspect and Cracker than Love Island but he won’t necessarily get his wish. He leaves sooner than expected, at the end of September, and hands over to John Cresswell, finance director, who will act as interim chief executive while a successor is sought. Allen says he “absolutely will not be retiring”. No news yet on his pay-off.
Among the bloggers, The Sloth bemoans the nonsense that ITV broadcasts, saying: “ITV: The best motivation for spending the evening in the gym, ever!” He also thinks he has uncovered the real cause of ITV’s decline: “Due to a terrible mix up in the HR department, the bloke that plays Fred Elliot in Coronation Street was sent to work in the ITV boardroom, while Charles Allen was sent to serve up rump steak in Coronation Street.” He says he has the picture to prove it.
Of course, we’re still watching BP closely after its decision to close its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska. There are several good lines for us to follow. The company’s shares, which fell more than 2 per cent yesterday, are off almost another 3 per cent today. After a sharp rise yesterday, oil prices have eased a little today.
One blogger, Robert Dillon (he describes his website, Alaskan Abroad, as “The misadventures of a journalist and reformed dog musher, his Bohemian wife and an obstinate Siberian husky named Kuba”) is a mine of excellent local information. He says the Alaskan treasury may have 60 days before it will run into the red without the royalties and taxes that flow from Prudhoe Bay, a point also illustrated by a great chart published by the Anchorage Daily News. The paper has some good pictures of the leaking pipes.
Dillon’s blog also links to a column in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner by Dermot Cole, which says: “I was surprised Monday afternoon when Murkowski administration consultant Pedro van Meurs testified that under the House bill the state would pay 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the cost of fixing the problems at Prudhoe Bay, through reduced taxes.“ The column goes on: “He said the oil companies would pay 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the tab of the Prudhoe Bay repairs, based on his early review of the House bill.”
Another blog, the Oil Drum, has a lengthy discussion on the implications for US and world oil supplies.
Yet more bad news from Isoft. The troubled software group says it has suspended Steve Graham, its commercial director, and adds that there are grounds for a “more formal investigation” into the group. It also says that an initial probe had found evidence of irregularities affecting the financial years ended April 30 2004 and 2005. “The principal effects of this would appear to have been to recognise revenues earlier than they should have been. They do not have any effect on the cash position of the group.” We are trying to establish, however, if the grounds for today’s investigation are the same or additional to those disclosed earlier. Isoft shares, already pitiful, are off another 4 per cent. This is such an interesting story: I think we may give it some space.
Other news: good first-half results and takeover news from Standard Chartered (Lex thinks life is about to get tougher, though); plus strong interims at Scottish & Newcastle (football and nice weather have helped, surprise, surprise).
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