Next-gen Kennedy in town as Biden says Bobby’s grandson will ‘supercharge’ US investment in the North

Planet Business: Tupperware meltdown, a scandal at Britain’s CBI and lessons from Elon Musk’s interview with the BBC

Image of the week: Old name, new face

Bobby Kennedy’s grandson Joe Kennedy (42) – or Joe Kennedy III, to distinguish him from other Joe Kennedys – has only been the US’s special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs since December so, until this week, we hadn’t had much of a chance to get a proper look at him.

When asked in March if he would be accompanying US president Joe Biden on his visit to Ireland, the millennial scion of the Kennedy family demurred, saying there would be “plenty of competition to be on his shoulder”. It’s a competition he won easily, with the former Massachusetts congressman one of the select group of “warm-up” acts for the president himself before his Ulster University keynote address on Wednesday.

While his name no doubt helped, Kennedy also happens to have the job most relevant to Biden’s message, which was that US corporations are just waiting to pour billions of investment into Northern Ireland, but possibly only if political leaders – meaning DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson – can find it within themselves to return to powersharing arrangements in Stormont.

Biden says he has asked Kennedy to “supercharge” the work of bringing more business, more investment and more opportunity to the North. He already seems to have grown quite misty-eyed about the task, waxing lyrical in Belfast about “old shipyards turned into incubators of technology” and tourism “surging among ancient walls”.


In numbers: Tupperware goes stale


Drop in the share price of Florida-based company Tupperware Brand Corp on Wall Street on Monday after it warned it could collapse if it doesn’t quickly raise new funds. The stock recouped some ground on Tuesday.


Years ago that the company was founded by chemist Earl Tupper, popularising both the concept of reusable plastic containers and direct selling via house parties.


Tupperware’s direct-selling workforce shrank by this much in 2022 compared with 2021. Even the generations that remember the heydays of Tupperware parties have moved on to more stylish rivals or alternatives such as beeswax paper.

Getting to know: Rain Newton-Smith

Just a month ago, Rain Newton-Smith left her job as chief economist of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to take up a new gig leading the sustainability strategy of Barclays – one of the banks that climate protesters have targeted thanks to its enthusiastic financing of fossil fuel projects.

But Newton-Smith has now made a swift return to the CBI. She is the lobbying group’s new director general after the last one, Tony Danker, was sacked as allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him and the CBI found his behaviour “fell short of that expected”.

That’s not the end of the scandal, however. Three other CBI employees have been suspended amid an external investigation, an internal review and a police inquiry into a wider set of misconduct claims, which include an allegation that a senior CBI manager raped a female employee at a summer boat party.

The crisis had already seen Downing Street “pause engagement” with the lobbying group – a freezing out it now says will continue under Newton-Smith’s reign until the investigations are concluded.

Suddenly, making Barclays appear “green” doesn’t seem quite so difficult.

The list: Musk’s musings

Days after slapping the BBC with a “government-funded media” label on its Twitter profile, Elon Musk granted a last-minute interview to the BBC’s North America technology reporter James Clayton. So what did the Twitter owner say?

1. Profit and loss: Musk said Twitter was “roughly break even at this point” and that advertisers were pretty much all flocking back to the platform. The word “roughly” is possibly doing some heavy lifting here.

2. Accommodation issue: Musk admitted to sometimes sleeping in the Twitter office and seemed quite fond of the couch in the San Francisco headquarters’ seventh-floor library.

3. Learning curve: Owning Twitter has “not been boring”, he said, describing the experience as “quite a rollercoaster”, which many Twitter users will agree with it. He also suggested that “things are going reasonably well”, a slightly less universal take.

4. Headcount slashing: Twitter has gone from having 8,000 employees to just 1,500 under his six-month reign of terror. Not everyone had been told in person, he said, because “it’s not possible to talk with that many people face to face”.

5. Profile tags: Musk said he would change the label on the BBC and NPR accounts to “publicly funded media”. The BBC one was duly updated on Wednesday, but NPR decided to leave Twitter, signing off with instructions on how to find its “consequential, independent journalism” elsewhere. Sounds wise.