Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

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What’s a great holiday gift in a recession, yes a good old fashioned book. Random House just got its new Dan Brown bestseller on the shelves.

Pearson’s Chief Financial Officer admitted that its consumer publisher Penguin does not have a blockbuster for the holiday season but — in a rare glimpse of corporate honesty — said it sure would like to have one.

“ I think we’ve got some good books for Christmas,” Pearson’s Robin Freestone said at the Reuters Media Summit on the upcoming holiday shopping season.

“We haven’t got a blockbuster in the sort of Dan Brown mode or the Stephanie Meyer mode. We sort of pretend we don’t really want a blockbuster but that isn’t true at all.”

Watch out school kids, big brother will soon be watching you

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By Paul Sandle

Sit back a minute and think back to your school days — doing homework on the bus, skipping double physics on a Friday afternoon…nice, huh? Well, no more if Pearson prevails.

The reluctant student skulking at the back of the class, copying homework at the last minute or taking a day off, like Ferris Bueller, could find school a lot tougher if his college starts using the publisher’s latest education products.  

Is Rupert Murdoch toast?

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Rupert Murdoch may have a sprawling empire and may be one the media industry’s last moguls but sometimes a small trust-owned outfit can show the big guys how it’s done. And what does that say about the future? Read for yourself.
The Guardian has been a fanastic innovator online, absolutely amazing innovator,” said David Levin, Chief Executive of United Business Media UBM at the Reuters Media Summit.”The big debate is how does Rupert Murdoch’s approach, saying I’m going to try and come off the search engines play, contrast with what the Guardian may or may not do. The Guardian is at the other end of the spectrum.
So, you got people who are webcentric and those who say well, ooh, I don’t like that web thing, I will somehow go off line…they’re toast.”
Rupert Murdoch take heed.

Six months a long time for BSE’s Kannan

When 36-year old Madhu Kannan took over the reins at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) earlier this year, he was faced with the task of turning around Asia’s oldest bourse, which had lost market share to tech-savvy new rivals.

Kannan, the youngest-ever CEO at the 134-year-old exchange, also had to gain acceptance from his employees in what had until then been a largely hierarchical firm.

How Leo DiCaprio started a car company

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Henrik Fisker, the storied car designer who has shaped Aston Martins, Fords and BMWs, told the Reuters Autos Summit this week that he now wants a starring role in the green revolution.

But he also wants to make the world safe for sports cars for generations to come.

AUDIO – Mornings with Ron: A Reuters Autos Summit tradition

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A few years ago, there was a book out called “Tuesdays with Morrie.” At Reuters, though, we spend our Tuesday mornings during Auto Summits with Ron.

It wouldn’t be a Reuters Autos Summit without our yearly visit from United Auto Workers head Ron Gettelfinger … at the crack of dawn.

Upstarts!

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The U.S. government has pumped more than $100 billion into Detroit over the past year to keep automakers General Motors and Chrysler alive. But some of the sector’s remaining capitalists are having a hard time stomaching a $25 billion Department of Energy loan program intended to spark new developments in electric cars. 

Start-ups Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors have won about $1 billion in combined funding, while longtime players Ford and Nissan have received substantially larger loans from Washington to work on vehicle electrification — a technology the White House and many in the industry hope will reduce the United States’ dependence on imported oil and lower emissions of carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas. 

AUDIO – Commercial real estate: The auto industry’s next big (bad) thing

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The U.S. auto industry has had one heck of a year.Sales have fallen off, credit has been pretty much nonexistant and two of the major U.S. automakers were bankrupt. Other that all that, things were fine.But Bill Diehl, chief executive of advisory firm BBK, said at the first day of this year’s Reuters Autos Summit, that one of the main concerns for 2010 (if it’s not THE main concern) is the industry’s overall exposure to commercial real estate.We have been hearing about the problems with commercial real estate in many other sectors of the U.S. economy and Diehl gave the strongest statement so far about the auto side.(To hear Diehl\’s comments, please click here)The Reuters Autos Summit continues through Thursday in Detroit and Paris.

The secret lives of auto executives

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Ed Whitacre sneaks off to breakfast at a Detroit greasy spoon. Sergio Marchionne’s attention to detail extends to the condition of his factories’ bathrooms. And Bill Ford helped save his great-grandfather’s company by hocking the blue oval. 

These are just a few of the glimmers of top Detroit auto executives’ lives that you get when you sit down with Ron Gettelfinger, head of the United Auto Workers union. 

Diehl: Ford & UAW need to “work at it” a little more…

William Diehl, chief executive of advisory firm BBK says Ford and the United Auto Workers union need to work a little harder to come to some sort of agreement that puts the automaker on a more level playing field with its rivals. Click here to listen to what he had to say at the 2009 Reuters Autos Summit.

Diehl on Ford-UAW contract talks from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

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