A nicer nest at Barclays for Jenkins, without cuckoo Ricci
"From the moment those parasitic little bundles enter your world they spend the next 20-odd years laying claim to everything in it. They want this. They need that. And if you don't give it to them, well, obviously it's because you don't love them enough. But at some point you have to start looking after your own interests."
That's the script from one of the latest Barclays adverts that extols the virtues of parenthood, but one wonders if the words are really code for how newish boss Antony Jenkins views his investment banking colleagues.
Last week Jenkins added Rich Ricci – the appositely named banker who owns the appositely named racehorse Fatcatinthehat – to his list of scalps. You'll recall that the gelding (the horse, not Ricci) had become Barclays' latest irritant after a run-out in the tabloids.
Ditching the 20-year Barclays veteran provided some nice press for Jenkins in the runup to this week's AGM and trading statement, a period when the form book suggests the bank unbridles bad news on provisions.
It would be a late run if Jenkins wants to repeat that trick this week, meaning the City is focusing on positives. As Ian Gordon, the Investec analyst, suggests: Ricci's departure should mean business as usual, only without the expense. In fact, exactly the message of the Barclays ad.
Drax stops burning coal and starts burning trees
"Our biomass plans will not only strengthen our environmental leadership position, but further enhance our reputation to stay at the forefront of developments to establish effective alternative fuel technologies for electricity generation in the UK".
So says power station group Drax about its £225m plan (with government guarantee) to transform itself into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator (essentially, burning wood instead of coal). Chief exec Dorothy Thompson promises the first of its six generating units will be converted by June.
So she'll be a green heroine for moving Drax away from its title of the UK's biggest carbon emitter? Don't be silly.
This week Drax shareholders will be met with sustainably produced placards waved by members of campaign group Biofuelwatch, who will emit slogans outside the firm's annual meeting in London. They argue that Drax's plan requires 15.8m tonnes of wood each year when the UK's total annual production is 10m tonnes – meaning more international land could be required for fuel not food, plus carbon-burning ships to cart the stuff to the UK.
Or, as one City wag puts it: "Biomass is no yellow brick road for Dorothy."
Premier faces heat for dishing out the gravy
Like the Bisto kids, Premier Foods shareholders are following a pungent whiff that will lead them to the group's annual meeting this week.
The company behind most of the UK's gravy market – as well as Hovis bread, Mr Kipling cakes and Loyd Grossman sauces – looks set for a grilling on issues that include high levels of executive pay and the fees trousered by its expensive City advisers. The company, now worth just £175m (from more then £800m in 2011), forked out around £3m to pricey auditors PWC last year (mostly for consultancy work). As Sarah Wilson, head of corporate governance watchdog Manifest, observes: "It's not the company it once was, but the salaries and fees still are."
That brings us to the most irksome of complaints on the investors' list: former chief executive Michael Clarke banked a £1.94m "golden hello" on joining the company in 2011 – just 18 months before bidding it goodbye. The company then handed another "welcome to the firm" share award to new boss Gavin Darby in January, although Premier directors will surely have a sense of humour about any barbs that come their way for that. After all, the company behind both Bisto and Oxo has just hired a chief executive whose name is an anagram of "I'd ban gravy". Sadly, shareholders aren't laughing.
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