Planet business



In numbers


The number of customers left out of pocket by Ulster Bank’s technical problems, which delayed the payment of salaries and welfare benefits into individual accounts.


The number of the bank’s branches forced to extend their opening hours to 7pm to deal with the problem.


of June, the date on which the problems first emerged. The bank does not expect them to be finally resolved until early next week.


zero, nothing, the amount the bank pledges the problem will ultimately cost its customers when the problem is finally sorted out.

Image of the week (above): Hong Kong anniversary

Two men walk through heavy security fencing erected around Hong Kong’s convention centre, where celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of the British handover of the island to China will take place this weekend.

Hong Kong has benefited from playing banker to China’s economic boom, but locals are increasingly resentful of what they see as Beijing’s meddling in the autonomous region’s affairs and of an influx of wealthy mainlanders, which has pushed property prices beyond the reach of the middle class.

Hong Kong still has many liberties and 180,000 people recently turned up at a commemoration to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

More demonstrations are expected to greet Chinese president, Hu Jintao, when he takes part in the handover celebrations this weekend.

The lexicon: Facipulate

An ugly marriage of facilitate and manipulate, it’s the act of attempting to influence the course of a discussion by indirectly promoting a particular line of thought. Sounds like it takes a lot of practice.

Getting to know: MIck Davis

Someone recently described Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis’s leadership style as “punchy, decisive and bold”, but shareholders also think it’s a bit rich.

Under the terms of the Swiss miner’s $65 billion merger with commodities trader, Glencore, Davis will be paid a €36 million retention bonus, meaning all he has to do is turn up for work.

The payment has become a particular bone of contention for shareholders, including Standard Life, Schroders and Fidelity, and is one of a number of issues that look increasingly likely to derail the deal, on which a vote is due in two weeks’ time.

It is now looking increasingly likely that if the merger goes ahead at all, at least some key terms will have to be changed, which could involve postponing the scheduled vote.

Sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Holdings, added to his woes this week by declaring that it wants improved terms, 3.25 Glencore shares for each of Xstrata’s, rather than the proposed 2.8.

Looks like some bold and decisive action is needed to save the deal.