Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Karmazin does it for love, not $

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Sirius XM Chief Executive Mel Karmazin is a serial monogamist when it comes to stocks. No matter where he’s worked, from Viacom to Sirius, he only buys stocks in those companies, he told the Reuters Media Summit in New York on Wednesday.

Lately, at Sirius, “every dime I’ve taken in has been spent buying stock,” he said. To show his fidelity, he wears special cufflinks in his shirtsleeves. One says “XM.” The other says “Sirius.”

Otherwise, he steered clear of stocks in the past decade or so, opting for tax-free municipal bonds or treasury bills. “So I have been a terrible investor because if you look at the past 12 years, my portfolio has only grown… 3 percent a year. If you look at stock market at that period of time, I’ve left an awful lot of money on the table. Over the last year… I’ve done ok compared to where a lot of people were.”

Speaking of Sirius, he notes all the media reports that peg his annual compensation at $32 million are not quite right.

Tiger Woods, please come back!

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The Professional Golfers’ Association, like everyone else who’s world depends on business, is teeing off into what executives like to call headwinds. While the PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem seemed pretty confident about the state of play at the Reuters Media Summit in New York, he didn’t shy away from being perfectly clear about life without legendary pro Tiger Woods — now out with a bum knee.

“There is always a silver lining in everything, but it’s largely bad… To have him out is a variety of negative factors.”

Baseball’s Bud Selig: Won’t be Commish again. Really.

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It’s easy to tell that Bud Selig, Major League Baseball’s commissioner, is a lifer, a true old-school fan with his dream job. He tells great stories about being a fan, a lifelong friend of icons like Hank Aaron, and is famous for being energetic when watching games live.

He loves it so much that this year he re-upped for 4 more years as its top dog, even after he said he would not. But at the Reuters Media Summit, he says that in 2012, he’s done. It’s over. Seriously. Done. Selig, signing off. Over and out. Right Bud?

NFL exec: Most of our players are good guys

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The NFL is getting a lot of gruff over the fact that some of its players have been taking the “bad boy” persona a wee bit too far. But the league says that most of its players know that violence belongs on the field; not at home, in bars or, say, crossing state lines.

Eric Grubman, the NFL’s top business executive, declined to comment on the incident involving New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress — who shot himself this past weekend.

Time Warner Cable and the Audacity of Hope

It’s not every day that you have a top executive in big business talk about how nice it will be to see the back of the Bush administration. Republican presidencies typically tout their adherence to free markets, unbridled capitalism and, most importantly, a smaller pile of what corporations often consider burdensome regulations. That isn’t what they usually expect from Democratic administrations, even ones led by Barack Obama.

That’s why we thought it so interesting that Time Warner Cable’s chief financial officer, Rob Marcus, is happy for some turnover at the Federal Communications Commission. It is the FCC, after all, that has to approve some key licenses for Time Warner Cable’s split from its majority owner, Time Warner Inc. For some reason, the FCC can’t seem to find room on its schedule to do that, and that seems to have irked Marcus. It is, after all, preventing the two companies from separating by the time Time Warner Cable said it would.

Audio – Opportunistic youth and the works

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It’s not just the global economic crisis that is weighing on Genpact Chief Executive Pramod Bhasin’s mind, but also several home-grown concerns.

 

Nothing works in India, Bhasin said, and rattled off a list of public utilities from water and power to security and transportation.

Obama victory sparks pride — now what?

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    Aetna CEO Ron Williams is one of the highest profile African American executives in the United States. On Wednesday he reflected on the election of Barack Obama, who is about to become the nation’s first black president.     
    “I thought it was terrific that the country was able to judge him on the basis of what they felt he could do for the country. I felt proud of the country. I thought it was an important milestone in the evolution of the country, and having done that, like the seat I sit in, now our shareholders want to know, ‘what are you going to do for us?’
    “I think he is off to a good start working on critical issues,” said Williams.

Audio – Say What?

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From time to time, John Jenkins is puzzled by the press releases he reads from drug companies.
   

Jenkins, the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of New Drugs, said when companies communicate an FDA action on their products to investors, they sometimes don’t convey it so accurately.  Click here to listen to his comments.
   

Big Pharma slow to get the picture

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Like Kodak’s failure to shift from away from film faster in the face of digital cameras, the world’s top drug makers are dragging their heels in rethinking they way they do business.

At least that’s the view of Bain & Co partner Tim van Biesen, who told the Reuters Health Summit there were clear parallels between the revolution in photography and the looming slump in sales and profits as old blockbuster drugs face a cliff of patent expiries.

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