Planet Business

Ghost resorts, inversions, ‘Panamania’ and a guide to H&M

Image of the week: Ghost resort

It was, to be fair, only April 1st when this photograph of vacant beach chairs at the Egyptian tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was taken, but the latest statistics do not lie. The numbers of tourists visiting Egypt has almost halved in the space of a year. The bombing of a Russian passenger jet over the resort last October, killing all 224 people on board, and the activities of Isis supporters in the area, has left Sharm el-Sheikh a ghost town, with flights from major airlines to its airport suspended and foreign offices around the world warning citizens of a high threat from terrorism. Hotels are empty, shops are shut and swimming pools remain ripple-free in the sun. (Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images.)

In Numbers: Inversion aversion

$152 billion The size of the planned merger between Pfizer and Allergan, which the companies scrapped this week almost immediately after a move by President Barack Obama to curb such tax-slashing "inversion" deals.


$150 million The loose change that Pfizer will pay Allergan to reimburse it for expenses related to the aborted deal.

$55 billion The value of AbbVie's planned takeover of another Ireland-domiciled pharmaceutical company, Shire, which was abandoned in 2014 after a previous effort by the Obama administration to tighten the rules and stop tax dollars draining away from the US.

The lexicon: Panamania

Jaded cynics may say they expect nothing better from the world's elite, but the Panama Papers, or the leak of 11.5 million files from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, is the story of the week, the month and quite possibly the year. As might be expected when 376 journalists from 109 media outlets in 76 countries are united with a cache of documents revealing the secret offshore financial activity of political leaders, millionaires and their friends, it has produced a forest of "most read" headlines.

The omniscandal, which Mossack Fonseca founder Ramon Fonseca dismisses as a "witch-hunt", has already claimed the scalp of Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson. Expect this #Panamania to run and run.

Getting to know: Anthony Vaccarello

Known, according to the Financial Times, for "his careful balance of minimalism with contemporary sex appeal", Anthony Vaccarello (36) (below) is a Belgian fashion designer who this week jumped from one stylish ship, Italian brand Versus Versace, to another, France's Yves Saint Laurent. YSL's parent company Kering has filled the creative director gap left open by the departure of revenue magician Hedi Slimane with Vaccarello, who the company describes as a "vivid and young force". He is expected to maintain the fashion house's sex appeal with skirt slits, plunging necklines and all the rest of it. According to Vogue, Vaccarello is "inspired by the female form". Investors were also enamoured by the appointment, sending Kering's share price up 1.2 per cent.

The list: H&M cheat sheet

Sweden’s Hennes & Mauritz is ramping up its presence in the Irish market, opening up the H&M online shop here and bringing its & Other Stories brand to Grafton Street. So in the unlikely event of a pop quiz on the subject, here are five key facts about the company:

1 Global empire H&M is the second biggest clothing retailer in the world, behind Spain’s Zara-owning Inditex. In third place: Gap Inc.

2 Humble beginnings The network of almost 4,000 stores began as a single shop called Hennes in Västerås in Sweden in 1947.

3 Big sister COS, short for Collection of Style, was launched in 2007 as a chain for people too old for H&M. The company dubs COS clothes “modern, timeless, tactile and functional”. Women hail or lament them as “a bit baggy”.

4 Supply chain H&M has maximised its profits by sourcing its clothes in low-cost Asia, where factories are paid in US dollars. This has meant the rise in the US dollar on currency markets has left first-quarter earnings look a bit tired.

5 Celebrity lines H&M is keen on the old celebrity endorsement, enlisting the services of Madonna, David Beckham, Beyoncé and Caitlyn Jenner to put their names to its cheap clothes.