Planet Business



Image of the week: Up on the roof

Digicel chairman, Communicorp owner and Independent News and Media’s largest shareholder Denis O’Brien (above) poses on the rooftop of Digicel’s headquarters in Port-au-Prince for Reuters before Christmas, hinting that not even billionaires are able to resist when a photographer suggests going up on the roof.

Six years after he first set up shop in Haiti, O’Brien’s company is now the largest private investor in the western hemisphere’s poorest country, with about half the population secured as his customers. At a school built by the Digicel Foundation, the children sang O’Brien a welcome song ending with “Long live Haiti, long live Digicel”, according to Reuters.

Next stop: Myanmar.

The List: Nightmare airliners 

Poor old Boeing must be rueing the day it ever called its Boeing 787 jet the Dreamliner, as it’s been the stuff of nightmares for the company ever since.

This list of Dreamliner-related trauma could be compiled purely from the events of the past week, but let’s go further back in time to capture the full horror.

1 Production delays: The maiden flight, planned for August 2007, did not take off until December 2009. Deliveries to airlines also lacked punctuality.

2 Engine trouble: In July 2012, All Nippon Airways said it was having five Dreamliner planes repaired for a defect in their Rolls-Royce engines.

3 No smoking: ANA aborted a take-off after white smoke was seen coming from the plane’s engine.

4 Taking a leak: US aviation authorities ordered inspections of all Dreamliners following reports of fuel leaks. Not so great when it was supposed to be Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airliner.

5 Battery blues: Regulators have now grounded the aircraft after two incidents – a fire and an emergency landing – suggested its use of lithium-ion batteries was a bit risky.

In Numbers

Cirque sans soleil

400 - Number of layoffs set to hit 29-year-old Canadian live entertainment company Cirque du Soleil, equivalent to 9 per cent of its workforce.

14 million - Tickets sold by the rapidly expanded Cirque du Soleil for its 19 separate productions last year (seven of which are permanent shows in Las Vegas).

$1 billion - Revenues collected by Cirque du Soleil in 2012 as audiences flocked to see its acrobatic stunts. However, it has been hit by a rise in the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar and a rise in production costs.

The Lexicon: Striptease

Spanish banks have revealed the extent of their sorrows in a “complete striptease”, according to prime minister Mariano Rajoy. Speculation that Silvio Berlusconi has booked a flight to Spain could not be confirmed at this time.

What Rajoy meant in an interview with the Financial Times earlier this week is that the banks had opened their books, and their hearts, to lenders, and have nothing more to reveal.

The striptease analogy falls down when you consider that striptease artists generally take their clothes off to reveal assets that are in good nick, whereas Spanish banks are not exactly in the best of shape – even if they don’t, as Rajoy claims, need any more money right now, thank you very much.

Getting to know: Trevor Moore

“I am proud to be leaving HMV with a profitable future secured,” said former chief executive Simon Fox on his departure last August. “The appointment of Trevor Moore means that I will be leaving the company in safe hands.”

It hasn’t quite worked out like that, though in truth the demise of HMV has its origins in the complacency that set in even earlier than Fox’s tenure. Moore is notable for also having served as chief executive of camera retailer Jessops, which shares many parallels with HMV, in that both companies have been sinking fast for years, both were undone by the digital world they failed to keep pace with, and both looked in slightly less awful shape in the middle of 2012.

Sadly, Moore’s attempts at a rescue mission at both companies have unwound, with Jessops beating HMV into administration by a week. On Tuesday, Moore insisted HMV could be saved. He just needs “time and money”.