Planet Business

Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 00:00

Compiled by LAURA SLATTERY

Getting to know: James Harding

James Harding is a fabulous bloke, an all-round great guy, a respected industry negotiator and a sterling editor of the London Times these past five years. That’s the message coming very loud from the forlorn footsoldiers at News International now that Harding has resigned.

Once it was “made clear” to him that parent company News Corporation “would like to appoint a new editor”, Harding – aged 38 when he took over – phoned Rupert Murdoch to say, Alright, then, fine, I’ll go.

Harding’s calm and warm farewell speech to staff came across like the polar opposite of Carol Bartz’s tirade against the “doofuses” on the Yahoo board who gave her a P45 last year. Harding thanked everybody, including Murdoch, “for the great honour he did me in appointing me five years ago”.

Turbulent times.

In Numbers: Accelerating Porsche

128,978

Number of cars sold by Porsche in the first 11 months of 2012, surpassing last year’s full-year record of 118,868.

71.4

Percentage growth in the US sales of the Stuttgart-based, Volkswagen-owned luxury car manufacturer.

6.8

The more modest percentage climb in Porsche’s sales in Europe, where a sports car is less of a priority right now.

The Lexicon: Groingate

Conclusive proof this week courtesy of IAG chief executive Willie Walsh and Virgin Atlantic supremo Richard Branson that macho business posturing is all about one thing – who is the bigger man. Or, to be more specific, who’s not left clutching their private parts in agony.

On Monday, Branson insisted on his blog that he planned to keep control of Virgin and that Walsh was “totally misguided” to say the brand would be ditched by its US suitor, Delta. He confidently bet Walsh £1 million that Virgin would still be around in five years.

“I don’t think a million pounds would hurt him. I don’t have a million pounds – so a knee in the groin, maybe – I’m sure that would be just as painful for him as me,” was Walsh’s somewhat unorthodox response.

Cue Branson: “It seems a very painful and foolish thing for Willie Walsh to propose, but I would be happy to accept.” Turning to the logistics, he suggested the kneeing should take place at the headquarters of the winner’s airline. But who will buy the popcorn?

Image of the week: Is it a plane?

There’s an inherent flaw in the mission to take photographs designed to show how bad the fog is, but this picture of British Airways tail fins is still a pretty way to capture the transport chaos at Heathrow during Wednesday’s Dickensian weather conditions.

The airport, which operates at full capacity, was forced to cancel more than 70 departures and delay many more as the poor visibility caused by freezing fog forced it to space out a take-off and landing schedule. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

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