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The Guardian (UK): Review of the year: Store wars, goose-stepping bosses and a French revolution: “Cairn Energy announced its second oil strike in the Rajasthan district of India. The Mangala field was, as a result, said to be worth $500m (pounds 261m). Not bad, considering Cairn had bought it from Shell just 18 months earlier for a meagre $7m.” ( 30 Dec 04


Dec 30, 2004


Review of the year


Jailed tycoon Calisto Tanzi of Parmalat offered to donate personal assets, including the family's yacht, to repay the £350m he took from the company to finance his lifestyle.
Administrator Enrico Bondi said he wanted "the truth, not the boats".

The Guardian reveals that the Financial Services Authority is in urgent talks with Standard Life over its financial strength. Britain's biggest mutual insurer is eventually forced to admit that it needs a stock market flotation to restore its financial health. Chief executive Iain Lumsden walks the plank.

The float is lined up for summer 2006.

Gordon Pollock QC, counsel for the liquidators of BCCI, the bank that collapsed in 1990, began his opening remarks in an unprecedented high court claim against the Bank of England for £850m compensation. He sat down in June, and his five months' of opening remarks entered the record book.

PFI group Jarvis issues the first of a series of profits warnings following delays to 14 projects it had been bidding for.


ITV plc makes its stock market debut (after the merger of Granada and Carlton).

The average price of a first home hits £100,000.

Pixie-like Malcolm Glazer re-emerges as a would-be stalker for Manchester United. He later tries to do a deal with fellow shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus, but fails. He uses his stake to oust three directors at the company's annual meeting, upsetting his bankers, who withdraw funding in protest. But he hasn't gone away yet.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling sneaks on to the prestigious Forbes annual list of billionaires. Ms Rowling was one of 64 new global billionaires to join the list and is ranked 552.


The "Phoenix Four" emerged. The four men widely credited with saving MG Rover as the UK's only volume car manufacturer had restructured the group and created a jointly owned private empire of the profitable divisions, valued at some £100m. They had bought the business from BMW for £10 and negotiated a "soft" £500m loan from the Germans as part of the purchase deal.

The goose-stepping owner of the Daily Express, Richard Desmond, unloaded his porn publishing empire - with titles such as Asian Babes and Big Ones - for £20m.

Bank of Ireland had promised to lend £7m of the purchase price, but the offer was rescinded after protests from customers.

Everyone had known it would be big, but not that big. Former Carlton TV chairman Michael Green, who was ousted by shareholders, was awarded a record-breaking £15m in cash, shares and options. And he'd never had a signed contract.

Gordon Brown was said to be frontrunner to become head of the International Monetary Fund. Unfortunately for Tony Blair, it either wasn't true or he turned it down.

After a battle lasting 14 months, Bradford-based supermarket group Wm Morrison finally took control of Safeway.

Cairn Energy announced its second oil strike in the Rajasthan district of India. The Mangala field was, as a result, said to be worth $500m (£261m). Not bad, considering Cairn had bought it from Shell just 18 months earlier for a meagre $7m.

A damning report from MPs said the true cost of the endowment mortgage crisis was £40bn and rising. Some eight out of 10 policies, they said, would not repay their associated mortgages.

Style magazine The Face fell out of fashion and was sent to the guillotine.

Jarvis announced it would sell half its Tube Lines business to help cut its huge debts.

The Barclay Brothers took a £52m dividend from chain store Littlewoods. The company also reduced its payments to charity, from £500,000 to £300,000.

Sir Peter Davis's last day as chief executive of J Sainsbury, before ascending to the chairman's office, was marked by the first of a spate of profit warnings. More later.

Busmaker and engineering group Mayflower, which once boasted having former PM John Major on its board, collapsed into administration with a £20m black hole in its accounts. The employees' pension scheme was underfunded, while the directors' scheme had been topped up, so that ousted chief executive John Simpson had a £5m pension pot to rely on.


Exactly 100 years after the signing of the entente cordiale, the entire board of Eurotunnel was ejected in a coup by grassroots shareholders. The rebellion was led by convicted fraudster and failed presidential candidate Nicolas Miguet on a platform of hanging tough with the company's banks - owed £6bn - and seeking government aid.

More Jarvis: it is only April and the group unveils its third profits warning in four months, and the finance director walks. The company also admitted liability for the Potters Bar train crash.

Former WH Smith executives Keith Hammill and Simon Burke teamed up with Permira to offer £940m for the ailing news and books chain. But it was no deal when the firm's pension trustees demanded that any bidder deficit would have to pay more into the pension scheme, which has a yawning £200m deficit.

Tesco chalks up a record annual profit of £1.7bn - a 22% leap on the previous year. The eight executive directors, all men, were paid a total of £26m in cash, share options and long-term incentives in appreciation of their efforts.

160 years after the idea was first dreamed up the Co-Op announced the return of its famous "divi".

This is what they said

Niall Fitzgerald, chairman of Unilever, on other bosses: "The crooks should be driven out, tried and put in jail. The incompetents should be taken from their responsibilities and allowed to do something else"

Shell's exploration boss Walter van de Vijver to chairman Sir Phil Watts about the company's stated reserves: "I am becoming sick and tired of lying"

Martin O'Neill, chairman of the Commons trade and industry committee on the restructuring of Rover Group and the so-called Phoenix Four directors: "The scale of your industrial achievement is being undermined by what appears to be a financial sleight of hand"

When the six-month trial of Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Schwartz was declared a mistrial because of the intransigence of one elderly female juror (who had given the defendants an "OK" signal in court), a fellow juror described her view as "when things went to hell at Tyco, the Ivy-League-educated, waspy board of directors closed ranks and served up, in her words, the 'Polack and the Jew'"

Lord Kirkham, chairman of furniture group DFS, rejected suggestions he was making the company look like a dog in order to take it private: "If it was a dog it would be a fucking Crufts champion, I can assure you"

New WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann tried to buy a computer accessory only to find they were out of stock. She said: "By the time I had been around five departments... I had begun to lose the will to live"

Express owner Richard Desmond told Jeremy Deedes of the Telegraph what he thought of Conrad Black: "After three years dealing with a bunch of crooks I am starting to enjoy this. You sat down with that fucking fat crook and did nothing"

M&S chief executive Stuart Rose: "If it looks like a duck and quacks like it's a duck, then it's a duck, right? That's how I operate. I am not going to take the duck's bloody footprints, send them away for DNA analysis and find 10 weeks later that it is a duck, by which time it's flown away"

A member of staff at Duhamel Place, billionaire Philip Green's Jersey HQ, in response to questions from the Guardian: "I can neither confirm nor deny anything, but you cannot quote me on that"

Ex-Parmalat finance director Fausto Tonna to journalists: "I wish you and your families a slow and painful death",,1380774,00.html


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