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British regulators have finally published their report into HBOS, the bank formed from the merger of Halifax with Bank of Scotland, more than seven years after its collapse. The 600-odd pages contain much detail on events and personalities. But there are general lessons for all businesses. Avoid the diversifier’s fallacy. Beware the winner’s curse. Fear adverse selection.
Retailers have recently complained about the level of business rates. However, were this property tax is reduced their joy will be short lived. Business rates are both a tax on land and a tax on structures, and in the longer term all we would see is higher property values and rents, especially in prime locations.
The Savoy Group and Google both adopted share structures that give individuals disproprtionately greater voting rights than their diverse set of shareholders. It has worked well for these companies and their investors over the long run. Perhaps we should reopen the debate over share structures?
The UK's Labour Party failed to provide a convincing economic narrative and duly lost the 2015 general election. In future it would do well to recognise the role it can play in promoting good corporations; reestablishing the political and social legitimacy of the market economy.
Michael Porter warned on the danger of being “stuck in the middle”. Companies, he said, must either gain a cost advantage or emphasise product differentiation. But what really matters is enjoying a competitive advantage in the market position you choose.
Established companies in all industries are inhibited in their response to radical change by vested interests inherent in their existing business models. Now, in publishing, it's time for the author to be placed where he or she should be - in charge.
John asks what should Scottish business really think about the forthcoming independence referendum.
Just as dammed water finds new channels of escape, crowdfunding seems to provide a way around the blockage.
The test of an organisational structure is not how it handles success but how it copes when things go wrong.