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Chain reaction that burned out ICI

Farewell to ICI, Britain’s leading industrial company for most of the 20th century. As a national institution, ICI nurtured some of Britain’s best management talent and developed the skills and knowledge behind the country’s most successful postwar industry.

Hilton and the business of milking brands

When pressure for brand extension of products and geography is continuous, and the service must be delivered by local partners, it is hard to maintain the brand as a means of quality control.

Property rights and the wrong path to democracy

There are two methods of allocating property rights: Top down – by the dictates of a central administration – or bottom up – rights to land are acquired by working it.

Dreams are no basis for a sound corporate strategy

An effective business strategy is not separable from execution and is not based on visions and dreams, but on a match between capabilities and activities.

Arguments for private equity are not always convincing

Private equity promoters propose layer upon layer of debt, leveraged by non-recourse finance. But the same finance theory also tells us that you do not increase the value of an investment portfolio by increasing gearing.

A nuclear energy plan that would truly benefit Britain

If pension funds could buy electricity bonds based on the future stream of electricity generation at fixed prices, then in thirty years elderly Europeans would not have to worry about lighting their homes and watching television.

The mutual interest in building trust still remains

Trust was a real competitive advantage for mutual businesses. But the difficulty of meeting the conflicting expectations of different users and the slow adaptation to the requirements of changing technology explains why mutuality ceased to be a viable basis for stock exchanges.
However, if mutuality is not the answer to customers’ requirements for providers they can trust, the industry badly needs to find other answers.

Europe’s insiders will never vote for a reform agenda

The states of Western Europe are the first states in history in which insiders represent a large proportion of the population. So every presentation of the reform agenda simply provokes the opposition of the majority and the victims are those who can never hope to become insiders.

A lady of wealth and tradition awaits her Mr Darcy

The battle for the London Stock Exchange has all the structure of a Jane Austen novel. Miss L.S.E., - a great name and the inheritor of a great tradition. It wouldn’t be the first time though that a suitor has to pay a high price for little more than a grand title. But such purchasers often do not regret their choice.

Scrutiny of foreign takeovers is prudent not protectionist

The principal reason why careful, sometimes even rigorous, scrutiny of foreign takeovers is prudent rather than protectionist is that what happens at headquarters matters.

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