Planet Business

This week: Exercise chairs, ‘economy minus’, future IPOs, ‘nut rage’ and a little bit of politics

Photo of the week: Lean-back entertainment

It seems unlikely that it would ever be possible to relax fully while wearing so many lanyards. But if anyone can do it, it's Philo Northrup, president of a company called Tao Wellness. Philo is pictured here demonstrating the "Tao Chair" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The chair apparently allows a person to get an isometric workout (a form of strength training), using resistance against the chair, while watching television. But why would anyone want to combine watching TV with exercise? What does "wellness" mean? These are the big questions that no one at the Consumer Electronics Show ever answers. (Photograph: Reuters/Rick Wilking)

In Numbers: Party politics

£31.1 million

Total spending by UK political parties on campaigning ahead of the 2010 general election, which resulted in a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.


The outcome of a UK general election hasn’t been as uncertain in this many years, according to Goldman Sachs, which is nevertheless betting that the Conservatives will just shade it in May. (The bookies seem rather less sure about that.)



Maximum spending permitted by candidates in the “long campaign”, said to have kicked off on December 19th.

The Lexicon: “Economy minus”

This is even worse than it sounds. Anyone who has ever flown on United Airlines will know that it sells seats in what it calls “economy plus” class – in other words, pricier than economy but cheaper than business or first. Other airlines in the US have similar levels of service: economy seats that customers pay hundreds of dollars extra for in exchange for “extra” legroom.

Now, according to a US travel site, one major US airline (United has denied that it’s the one) is considering introducing a class of service known as “economy minus”, which will squeeze even more seats into the same space than regular, not-exactly-comfortable economy. Welcome to Air Sardines.

Getting to know: Heather Cho

Heather Cho is the now-former Korean Air executive at the centre of the so-called "nut rage" incident in New York. Cho, the daughter of Korean Air's chairman and its head of in-flight service up until last month's macadamia madness, was this week charged for delaying a flight following an outburst over the way she was served nuts. Cho had demanded that the chief steward be removed from the flight at JFK airport after another flight attendant in first class served her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a dish. South Korea's transport ministry concluded that Cho abused the flight attendants, while prosecutors say the aircraft's return to the gate for the attendant to disembark "undermined Korean Air's credibility and also damaged national dignity".

The list: Let’s float

There will be no shortage of initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, so get your “it’s worth that much” faces ready now. Here are some of the big names that are set to spend 2015 gearing up for a flotation, or are rumoured to be doing so (which, admittedly, isn’t quite the same).

1 Shake Shack After the fast-food chain's IPO filing this week, investment site the Motley Fool wondered if it would prove to be "the hottest" this year. We know only that its burgers are rather nice.

2 ViiV GlaxoSmithKline is said to be considering a listing for Viiv, its HIV drug division, “to capitalise on the unit’s soaring sales”.

3 Airbnb Valued at $10 billion (€8.4 billion), this home rental company may be about to go public.

4 Stripe The payments company set up by Limerick’s Collison brothers could go down the IPO route, though it could equally be swallowed up by one of the big tech giants.

5 Moy Park Its Brazilian parent company, Marfrig, says it will seek a listing for Moy Park, its European meats business, this year . . . unless it chickens out.