Planet Business

This week: Modest innovators, CEO grandsons and new female billionaires

 

Image of the week: Old Bailey arrivals
We are now into the fifth month of the phone hacking trial, with this week seeing the cross-examination of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, seen here arriving at the courthouse with her husband, Charlie, and their regular choice of takeaway beverages.

Brooks is among seven defendants on trial for various charges related to phone hacking, illegal payments to officials for stories and hindering police investigations. All defendants in the trial deny all the charges. There are likely to be a few more morning trips to Starbucks in Rebekah and Charlie’s future, as the case is expected to last about another two months.
Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters

In numbers: War, Peace and AIB
123

Pages devoted to “risk management” in AIB’s 432-page blockbuster of a 2013 annual report, published on Wednesday.
33
Uses of the word “recovery” in the document, mostly in connection with the economic and business kind, rather than the loan collection variety.
11
Mentions of the “c” word (“crisis”) in the report, because who wants to talk about that now?

The lexicon: Modest innovator
A “modest innovator”, or one who innovates only modestly, sounds like the kind of dreamer who gets other people to follow through on ideas in a half-hearted, not-much-fussed style. In fact, it is European Union Innovation Scoreboard terminology for the bottom tier of “innovator” countries – or the not particularly innovative, in other words.

In this group are Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania and Poland, while in the middle tier of “innovation followers” lie Ireland, the UK and France, among others. Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland were dubbed “innovation leaders”, which loosely translates into non-jargon as “winners”.

Getting to know: Rupert Soames
Up until last weekend, Rupert Soames was the chief executive of temporary power company Aggreko, suppliers to such lovely, feelgood events as the Glastonbury festival, the Olympics and the inauguration of US president Barack Obama. But he has quit to become the boss of scandal-hit outsourcing giant Serco.

The British company, which runs prisons, manages border controls and maintains nuclear weapons among other activities, has been deemed “embattled” ever since accusations that it fraudulently overcharged on criminal tagging contracts led to a UK government ban on new business heading its way. With profit warnings all over the shop, Serco-watchers say Soames will have “his work cut out”. Who knows? Perhaps the grandson of Winston Churchill will be up for the challenge.

The list: New female billionaires
There are a record-breaking 172 women on Forbes’ list of the world’s 1,645 billionaires, and 42 of them are billionaire-newbies. Here are five of them.
1 Denise Coates: Worth an estimated $1.6 billion, the British businesswoman is the low-profile joint chief executive and largest shareholder of dividend-spinning Bet365.
2 Folorunsho Alakija: Nigeria’s first female billionaire owns lucrative oil assets through Famfa Oil, though her first business was an upscale fashion label .
3 Jane Lauder: Estée’s granddaughter (41) and incoming boss of Clinique is the youngest US female billionaire following a transfer of shares in the cosmetics empire.
4 Sandra Ortega Mera: The daughter of Inditex clothing retailer Amancio Ortega has inherited the fortune of her late mother, Zara co-founder Rosalia Mera. A trained psychologist, Ortega Mera is not active within Inditex.
5 Sheryl Sandberg: The billionaire status of Facebook’s chief operating officer is notable for the fact that, though self- made, she didn’t have to start her own company to get there.
 

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