The Great Debate UK
(Republished on Oct. 19 with the following disclaimer: Neil Collins owned shares in BP when he wrote this article; he bought shares shortly before and after)
BP and Prudential are two of Britain's biggest and most respected companies. Their lavish annual reports contain dozens of pages on how these great corporations are run. Both boast of their compliance with the code of corporate governance, which encourages proper boardroom debate to avoid bad decisions, boosts the chairman, and insists that he cannot also be the chief executive, lest one person become too powerful.
At BP, a powerful chairman in the shape of Peter Sutherland was replaced in January by Carl-Henric Svanberg, who had been chief executive of Ericsson. He has been the invisible man at BP.
In normal times, this might not matter. As the company's oil pollutes the southern coastline of the United States, it's a PR disaster. In a crisis, the chairman must be seen to be supporting his chief executive. Unfortunately, Svanberg's chief executive, Tony Hayward, is not media-friendly either.
from UK News:
By Clara Ferreira-Marques
Prudential's ill-fated Asian adventure has left the company and its management badly bruised. But it has offered at least two valuable lessons for ambitious executives tempted onto the acquisition path by post-crisis, "once-in-a-lifetime" deals.
Lesson one: It's not 2007 any more, Toto.
Lesson two: Disregard shareholders at your peril.
On the first, bold mega-deals that once impressed the market now seem to mostly unsettle both investors and regulators.
A bulk annuity buy-out is an insurance contract which allows a defined benefit pension scheme sponsor and its trustees to absolve themselves of their responsibilities in regard of the accrued liabilities to members.