Sunday, 30 September 2007

Month End for Mr David Gold

Mr Gold, chairman of Gold Group International, that owns the lingerie chain Ann Summers and Knickerbox as well as Gold Air International, Birmingham City Football Club and newspapers started his business in a small shop. He sold magazines and newspapers and sometimes had to sleep in this little shop. He always kept it open till late even though the law forbid that. He started to negotiate with comic suppliers to sell comics at good rates and also started to sell adult magazines as it proofed to be selling very quickley in those days.

He used this shop in Charring Cross (London) to begin his empire, later on by out Ann Summers and hand the Chief Executive position to his daughter, Jacqueline Gold.

Mr Gold is co-owner with Brother Ralph Gold and at school Mr David Gold had to look out for his brother. He missed a chance to play for his favourite football team West Ham United due to his father not wanting to sign permission for him to play. He now flies to work in one of his helicopters owned by Gold Air International. Gold Air International is an exclusive private airline to fly business people and celebrities to their required destinations. The Gold family is worth £500 million.

I am facinated by Mr Gold and his whole life story. His book is the ultimate Rags to Riches tale and is highly recommend. I have signed copy of his book and if anyone is interested in owning a copy of this book (not available in book shops) then please contact me by posting a comment with your contact details and I will send you my singed copy free of charge.

Here are links to the articles on The Month of Mr David Gold (our business personality for September:

For the month of October, our business personality is Mr Peter Jones, owner and founder of Phones International Group founded in 1998, providing mobile cellular solutions to a broad range of clients. So keep wathcing the entrepreneur for more on Mr Peter Jones.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Virgin 1 to be launched

The launch of Sir Richard Branson’s first Virgin-branded television channel was celebrated by 200 guests at Sir Richard’s Oxfordshire home. There was a fairground and the inclusion of a flight simulator among the attractions.

Virgin 1, a male-skewed entertainment channel, offering US imports and attention-grabbing factual shows, is Sir Richard’s new step towards the battle with BskyB. The latter company is 39.1% owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Times.

About 40,000 subscribers (see article on the 09/09/07) have left Virgin Media since BSkyB pulled its basic channels, including Sky One and Sky News, from Virgin Media in a row over fees. Sir Richard is still fighting over BSkyB’s 17.9% stake in Britain’s ITV which blocked his £5 billion takeover bid.

Virgin 1, which will launched on Monday, will have a budget of £40 million ($80 million). Sir Richard commented on the feud with Sky that “If you have a gun held to your head and give in the first time around, it is likely you will get a gun to your head a second time. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand.” Sir Richard said: “hoped the competition authorities would settle the dispute with BSkyB in his favour. As for ITV, watch this space”, when questioned if a future bid for the broadcaster was a possibility.

Launch highlights include The Riches, an Emmy-nominated US drama starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a television spin-off from the Terminator films. The channel will rely on hours of Star Trek and Seinfeld repeats in its opening year. Sir Richard also said that British Airways, his arch rival in the transatlantic wars, had won the battle to become the first advertiser on the service. Virgin Media expects the new channel, aimed at men aged 25 to 54, to be among the top ten multi-channels by 2012. (source: Timesonline)

Poor sugar trading and currency pressures have allowed shares in Tate & Lyle to fall by 25%. Tate & Lyle will report a loss for the six months to September 30, 2007, against a £15 million gain in the comparable period after sugar prices fell during a August. It is understood that the weakness of the US dollar ($1 - £2) will impact profits by as much as £12 million ($24 million). Their corporation tax has also been increased from the average 30% to 34% following a restructure of the business when it sold of its European cereal sweeteners business.

Commenting on future trading, Tate & Lyle said "given the importance of these factors, the board views the near term outlook with caution."

Thursday, 27 September 2007

British Airways $8.2 billion dollar order

In a major fleet replacement programme in nearly a decade, British Airways placed an $8.2 billion (£4.1 billion) order for 61 new aircraft, including its first order for Airbus's A380 superjumbo that can carry up to 853 passengers. This includes 12 Airbus A380 superjumbo’s and 24 of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner craft. British Airways has also taken options to buy a further seven Airbus superjumbos and 18 Dreamliners. Although the airline said the new fleet are worth $8.2 billion (£4.1 billion), City analysts believe the price agreed will probably be about £3 billion because of the size of the order. The order fits with the airline's anticipated capital expenditure plans of £900 million per year

The new planes, will be delivered between 2010 and 2014, and will be used to replace 34 existing long haul planes, mostly Boeing 747s. Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, said “the airline would use the A380 to make the best use of limited take-off slots at London's Heathrow airport. The new order would deliver an extra 4% capacity every year over the medium term.” (source: Timesonline)

Ikea, the Swedish furniture chain, founded by Ingvar Kamprad one of the richest people in the world, posted profits at 8% lower than last year. This is due to investment in revamping stores and developing e-commerce in a tough market. The company spent £33.9 million on building new stores in Ashton, near Manchester, and Coventry, and £27 million on extending and refurbishing stores in the year up to August 2006.

Total sales are up by only 2% to £1.09 billion ($2 billion) in the year to August 2006, indicating flat underlying sales. Peter Högsted, managing director of Ikea in the UK, said the chain was in the process of a £760 million expansion. Ikea has made 350 managers redundant and hired more shopfloor staff as it cut costs and attempted to increase customer service this year. Mr Högsted expects to extend e-commerce to cover the whole of Britain by next spring, up from about two thirds of the country now. By then he expects to be achieving about £80 million of sales online, equivalent to a medium-sized store. Ikea has yet to advertise its online store, which began operating as a trial in January. (source: Metro)

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Virgin Mobile Flotation

In Virgin Mobile (USA) set up in November 2003 is planning to raise $375 million (£186 million) in new funds for its upcoming float on Wall Street. The company, which is a joint venture between Sprint Nextel (US telecoms giant) and the Virgin group, both hold a 47% share in the business. The group moved into the black for the first time during the first quarter of the year, with 15% of the American market (4.88 million) mobile users. In the float the group will sell a stake worth almost 43%.

In the latest filing to the SEC last night, the company said that it planned to sell about 27 million shares at between $15 and $17 each. After expenses, the company plans to use the $375 million to repay $150 million of debt and $45 million of borrowings that it owes to Sprint. If the float goes ahead at $16 a share, it would value the group at more than $900 million. Virgin, which uses the Sprint PCS network to offer pay-as-you-go wireless communications services targeted at the youth market, hit a million customers within 18 months of its launch. As of June 30, Virgin served about 4.8 million customers. The company’s revenue and net income for the six months ended June 30 were about $666.9 million and $26.5 million, respectively.

Mer-rill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, the US investment banks, the underwriters for the flotation, have the option to buy up to an additional 4.1 million shares to cover any overallotments made by the flotation.

Article on Facebook's value - By: Stefan Enslin

Microsoft is looking to buy a 5% stake of Facebook for $500 million, valuing the website at a staggering $10 billion. James Harding, Business Editor for Timesonline question “is it worth that much?” Well, that depends on the answer to a different question: “is Facebook an AOL or a Google?”

Harding commented that “AOL started out as the internet service for people who did not know the first thing about the internet. One of the early features it offered was a chatroom - a means for people to talk over the web. Thus was the germ of online social networking sown. Times were good. Then, in 2000, AOL merged with Time Warner in what has become regarded as the worst deal of all time. A culture clash between Time Warner’s old-media stalwarts and AOL’s upstarts ensued. Customers left for alternative internet providers.”

From this deal and because of the culture clash between Time Warner & AOL, it emerged that AOL had been vastly overvalued. After this business deal, AOL’s value plunged tenfold. “Google, by contrast, makes a lot of money - $3.7 billion in revenues in its most recent quarter. Remarkably, it has not marketed itself in any meaningful way: Google’s users come to it, the company then defies all e-commerce logic by getting rid of them as quickly as possible by pointing them at a destination outside its plot of cyberspace. It dominates a market - search advertising - that it largely invented and its shares are up nearly sevenfold since their 2004 debut.” said Harding.

Facebook as we all know was born at Harvard University. In august this year we saw the founders of ConnectU taking Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook to court. It is understood by the ConnectU owners that they hired Zuckerberg in 2003 to help them set-up ConnectU which is similar to Facebook and he stole the idea that is now the global phenomenon called Facebook.

Harding said “This year Facebook will make an estimated $100 (£50 million) million in revenues, about $2.50 per current member. That makes it very hard to justify a $10 (£5 billion) billion tag. There are shades of AOL-style hype. Facebook needs funds to bolster its efforts at turning visitors into cash. Microsoft, once the upstart, now looks increasingly like the old guard trying to find its way in the Web 2.0 era.”

In my mind I think Facebook tries to emulate Google, but it is not easy to say with confidence. It is not the biggest social networking site and has a big rival named MySpace with almost as many users as Facebook. True, Facebook will still continue to grow as most of its users are youngsters and its dominance over the social networking market will not easily be broken.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

PRET to be sold

Pret-a-Manger founded by college buddies Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham in 1986, is about to be sold for more than £400 million, putting the two founders in line for a mega pay day. Private equity firm Bridgepoint and Icelandic investor FL Group are among those keen to gobble up the 150-strong chain. Pret, which turns over about £150 million a year, had been heading for an autumn stock market flotation, however, the owners changed their minds after some interesting approaches. McDonald's became a shareholder five years ago, paying between £40 million and £50 million for a third of the company. (source: The Londonpaper)

News By Timesonline

Microsoft is thinking of taking a stake in social networking site Facebook in a move that could value Facebook at more than $10 billion (£4.97 billion) and trigger a bidding war. Microsoft, world’s largest software developer is considering paying between $300 million and $500 million for a 5% stake in Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal. Any move by Microsoft on one of the web’s hottest properties could spark a counter bid from Google, the leader in search advertising, analysts suggested.

Facebook the privately-owned site has raised about $40 million in venture capital in the three and a half years since it was founded with 40 million active users with targets at 60 million at the end of the year. Staff levels have risen threefold since last year to more than 300 and further expansion could call for more investment. The group is expected to achieve revenues of more than $100 million this year – a figure likely to be regarded as disappointing given the huge levels of traffic it attracts. Facebook now claims around 60 billion page views per month.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's 23-year-old co-founder and chief executive, has already rebuffed takeover approaches from groups including Yahoo, which is thought to have offered about $1 billion a year ago. Mr Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he intends to keep the group independent. (source: Timesonline)

Tesco is at loggerheads with regulators over the acquisition of five Somerfield stores. The Office of Fair Trading has invited rival supermarkets to comment on Tesco’s planned acquisition of stores in the North of England and North Hykeham in Lincolnshire, raising the prospect of an investigation into each store purchase. Tesco with a control of about 30% of the UK’s grocery market, is already the main target of a Competition Commission investigation into the power of the supermarkets. The provisional findings are expected to be revealed next month. Last week, the Competition Commission said that it had provisionally found that Tesco’s acquisition of a former Coop site in Slough had reduced competition in the area. Tesco was ordered to stop developing the site last month while the commission carried out an investigation, the first into the acquisition of just one store. (source: Timesonline)

Quick Statistics
40% Proportion of UK online advertising spending taken by Google
80% Estimated proportion of adverts that would be accounted for by combined Google and DoubleClick
$2bn Estimated profit made by Hellman & Friedman, DoubleClick’s owner
$3.9bn Google’s most recent quarterly revenue

Monday, 24 September 2007

Battle for Shanghai

Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based airline and its ally Air China are expected to make a combined offer for a significant stake in China Eastern Airlines. Cathay’s move, which will build on Air China’s existing 11% stake in China Eastern, is expected to trigger a bidding war for effective control of the routes owned by China’s third-largest carrier.

Cathay and Singapore are desperate to expand their operations in China the world’s fastest-growing aviation market and see China Eastern, with its dominance of the Shanghai hub, as vital to that. Since Singapore announced its intention to build a stake in China Eastern three weeks ago, analysts at Citigroup have flagged the strong possibility Air China would respond robustly.

Singapore’s purchase has yet to receive the approval of shareholders at a meeting in December. It is understood that Air China and Cathay may be preparing to thwart that approval by organising a two-thirds majority vote preventing the stake-sale to Singapore. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, could use a large stake in China Eastern to turn Shanghai into a hub connecting its international network with a domestic Chinese one.

Despite its strategic importance in the region, China Eastern has been criticised by investors as one of the few airlines that have managed to make a loss despite the booming growth of Chinese air travel. In 2006, it plunged more than 3.3 billion yuan (£218 million) into the red. (source: Timesonline)

Former Dragons' Den judge Doug Richard has raised $6.5m (£3.2m) for his new venture, Trutap, a free mobile phone service targeted at 18 to 24-year-olds.

This venture lets mobile users send instant messages to friends via companies such as MSN and Yahoo!, as well as offering blog and photo-sharing sites. The latest tranche of investment comes from Tudor Investment Corporation a US financial group.

Richard said "we see huge market demand in our service. This new infusion of capital will enable us to continue broadening our services and accelerate our leadership position in the industry." Trutap already operates in over 200 countries with plans in place to broaden its geographic scope in the coming months.

"Our key market is the 18 to 24-year-olds who feel real anxiety when they are unable to communicate with their friends continuously. Missing out on recent news, a piece of gossip, a new picture, a drink invite or a night out with pals is a real concern to them." said Richard. (source: Independant)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Sainsbury's takeover enters final stages

Qatari can takeover J Sainsbury by Christmas after the supermarket’s board yesterday confirmed it had opened its books to Delta Two, which is planning a £10.6 billion takeover bid. However, investors appeared to retain some scepticism that a formal bid would emerge with shares rising by just 2% to 565p, below the 600p-a-share bid price, yesterday.

Main concern is whether Delta can secure agreement with Sainsbury’s pension fund trustees, who are thought to want between £2 billion and £3 billion in cash up front to underpin retirement benefits for the scheme’s 85,000 members. Talks with the trustees are expected to begin early next week. The good news for Delta Two is that the Sainsbury family, who retain an 18% share in the company, appear to be comfortable with the 600p-a-share bid price, particularly as the fund has confirmed plans to include a 3p-a-share dividend in respect of the period ending October 6.

Delta Two is expected to take about three weeks to complete due diligence and an offer is likely to be put to be put to shareholders by mid October. The offer would take 60 days to complete, so that if everything runs smoothly it could be completed by mid-December

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Dell's Legion Supercomputer

Dell, the computer giant, is extending its low-cost ethos to high-end supercomputers. Yesterday, Dell unveiled a giant machine in London that will strive to uncover cures for cancer and the origins of the universe. Dell’s Legion supercomputer, built for University College London (UCL), will be one of the most powerful in Europe and will be funded by a £3.9 million government grant. It will weigh 21 tonnes and have the power of nearly 3,000 desktop PCs.

The move comes amid burgeoning competition in “mass market” supercomputers. The sector is estimated to be worth more than $10 billion (£4.99 billion) by IDC, the analysts. Estimates put growth at about 20% a year, as researchers harness levels of performance available at prices undreamt of a decade ago. The agreement underpinning the system – designed to foster long-term cooperation between Dell and UCL was signed yesterday by Michael Dell, the group’s chief executive.

Mr Dell said: “Low-cost supercomputing changes the game.” He predicted that machines such as Legion will transform existing “broad brush” treatments of diseases and replace them with bespoke medicines tailored to a patient’s DNA. UCL believes that Legion could presage a time when surgeons in theatre access massively powerful machines in real time. Researchers in UCL’s physics and astronomy department, meanwhile, will perform “the most detailed simulations ever conducted of cold dark matter structure formation” in the universe. UCL said: “This will test our understanding of the origin of galaxies and of gravity itself.”

UCL plans to make Legion accessible to researchers across its faculties. David Price, the chairman of the UCL research computing subcommittee, said. “High-end supercomputing used to be the preserve of an elite few in the academic world, but not anymore.” (source: Timesonline)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Easyjet's outcry

Easyjet, the budget airline today urged scrapping Air Passenger Duty and to replace it with a tax based on aircraft types and distance travelled. The no-frills airline said it covered its environmental costs more than four times over and aviation should not be green rolled into accepting higher taxes. (source: The Londonpaper)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has helped Bloomsbury boost revenues up to 36.5% to £51.4 million, with pre-tax profits 8.5% lower at £3.9 million. Broker Dresdner Kleinworth said "with cash balances rising rapidly as Harry Potter receipts come in, and the share price below 170 pence, it will be interesting to see if the company looks to buy back shares" (source: The Londonpaper)

Microsoft fined for a record amount

Microsoft was left reeling yesterday after a bruising defeat at the hands of European judges who upheld a record fine on the software giant for abusing its dominant market position to crush competition. Microsoft executives said that they would comply with the European Commission’s demands to open up their products to greater competition, but vowed to study the 248-page judgment before deciding whether to appeal.

The judges in Luxembourg supported a fine of €497 million (£345 million) and confirmed the Commision’s ruling that by bundling up Windows Media Player with its Windows operating system, Microsoft had damaged rival media players’ ability to compete. They also upheld an order by the Commission in 2004 that Microsoft supply technical information to other companies, such as Sun Microsystems, so that they can make their servers compatible with Windows-based software.

Neelie Kroes, the Competition Commissioner, said: “Microsoft cannot abuse its Windows monopoly to exclude competitors in other markets.” She said that the verdict should see Microsoft’s 95% share of the PC software market reduce, but would not name a target figure. (source: Metro)

Terms of the deal on the selling of Virgin Megastores were not disclosed yesterday, but industry insiders said that Sir Richard was likely to have offered the management team a significant dowry, possibly more than £20 million, to take the loss-making chain off his hands. The store chain made pretax losses of £82.2 million in the year to March 2006 and the company would not disclose the level of losses in the year to March 2007, but industry observers believe that the cash losses are likely to have been as much as £50 million.

The Zavvi management team, led by Simon Douglas, Virgin Megastores’ managing director, and Steve Peck-ham, its finance director, will continue to operate its more than 130 stores in the UK and Ireland. Mr Douglas, who oversaw a £100 million investment in the Virgin stores over the past three years for Sir Richard, would not comment on the financial backing for his buyout. He said: “There is an opportunity to establish a new and exciting entertainment brand.” (source: Timesonline)

Monday, 17 September 2007

Virgin Megastores Sold

Virgin to sell Megastores

Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin group founder is understood to be in talks to sell its Megastores music retail chain to a buyout team led by the group's managing director Simon Douglas and finance boss Steve Peckham.

Sir Richard founded Virgin as a mail-order record business in 1970 and opened his first retail outlet on London's Oxford Street the following year. Eight years later, the group literally moved down the street after acquiring the massive store that remains Virgin Megastores's flagship site. It is not clear how much the 130-store chain is worth and it is believed there are further talks on Sir Richard being paid following a sale if the business's performance improves. The chain has been braking even the last couple of months.

In the past four years, many of the UK's high street chains have failed as a result of supermarkets selling DVD’s, CD’s etc so much cheaper. Andy's Records, MVC, Tower Records, Music Zone and Fopp have all gone into administration and last month they were followed by ChoicesUK after it could not find a buyer.

The sector now only boasts HMV and Virgin Megastores as national chains. The pair recently held talks about a joint venture. Those negotiations broke down over price. (source: Telegraph)

Virgin Race sponsored by Google

It is understood that VIRGIN may enter a race sponsored by Google to send the first privately financed mission to the moon. The Google Lunar X-Prize, which was announced last week in Los Angeles will give up to $30 million (£15 million) to the first company able to land a rover vehicle on the moon. It must be able to travel at least 500 meters, and send high-resolution video, still images and other data back home.

Virgin was part of the team that won the inaugural X-Prize three years ago. The $10m prize was awarded for the first privately funded suborbital space flight. Virgin’s Space Ship One who was built by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan secured the rights to commercialise the technology. Virgin Galactic plans to unveil its commercial space planes early next year. They will operate from a “spaceport” in New Mexico. Norman Foster, the acclaimed British architect, has won the competition to design the building. Groups of space tourists will be taken on the planes on short rides into space. (source: Timesonline)

Qatar's state investment fund is close to buying Nasdaq's 31% in the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) for just over $5.6 billion (£2.78 billion), reports said on Sunday.

U.S. exchange Nasdaq has put its LSE stake on the market to boost its chances of buying Nordic exchange operator OMX. The Qatar Investment Authority's £2.8 billion bid is equivalent to a 1,400% share, as indicated by the Sunday Times. LSE shares closed at 1,397 pence on Friday.

The stake will be weakened to 22% of the LSE after the LSE completes its acquisition of Milan exchange group Borsa Italiana, the Wall Street Journal said. Qatar, for now, isn't looking to buy all of LSE, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The latter mentioned paper added that the Qatar fund may not make the purchase alone. (source: Reuters)

Almost 10% of Vodafone shareholders voted against the re-election of Arun Sarin as chief executive in the midst of slowing revenue growth and after a damaging boardroom dispute earlier this year.

About 9.5% of proxy votes were cast against Mr Sarin's re-election and 4.8% abstained giving Mr Sarin 85.7% support. Such opposition to the re-election of a chief executive is very rare among blue-chip companies. Large institutional investor Standard Life Investments was among those which voted against Sarin's re-election to the board.

Mr Sarin's leadership of Vodafone has come under intense scrutiny over the past year after three profit warnings and bitter recriminations at board level. (source: Telegraph)

Friday, 14 September 2007

Brief News for today

Despite the fact that Cadbury Schweppes wants to demerge from its drinks unit, which includes 7Up and Dr Pepper, the group has turned down a £6.9 billion offer from a private equity consortium.

Canon, the electronics firm is to buy back up to £215 million worth of its own shares to boost its return on equity and gain a reserve of shares to fund future acquisitions. (source: The LondonPaper)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Aston Martin the Coolest!

Aston Martin is considered the coolest brand in the UK, thanks to its association with the James Bond films, a survey has found. The carmaker has come top in the latest study by independent brand research firm Superbrands, which questioned more than 2,000 consumers. In second place was Apple's iPod, followed by video website YouTube and Danish hi-fi firm Bang and Olufsen. Back in March, US giant Ford sold Aston Martin to a UK consortium for £479m.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Strong profits at PricewaterhouseCoopers

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm, has announced today a 6% growth in turnover to £2.1 billion. The company’s underlying net revenue is up by 9% and underlying profit grew by 11% to £631 million, with average profit per partner up by 6% to £757 000. Kieran Poynter, the UK chairman said “the results show the strength and diversity of our business.” (source: The Londonpaper)

ABN Amro Battle

The president of Barclays Bank, Mr Bob Diamond, conceded yesterday that the rival offer for ABN Amro from the consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland will probably beat theirs if the RBS group sticks with its €70 billion (£48 billion) bid. The value of Barclays’ predominantly share-based offer has fallen below the rival bid in recent weeks as the group’s share price has lost value amid turbulent credit markets.

Mr Diamond’s comments were the first public admission that Barclays was likely to lose the battle for ABN. Barclays is competing with RBS and its two partners to win control of the Dutch bank in what would be the biggest banking takeover to date. Mr Diamond said: “The bad news is if the consortium still wants to pay that price, if it’s comfortable with the risks on the balance sheet during the turmoil, if they can raise that money in the market and if the regulators are going to allow ... this kind of complex transaction, then that price will probably beat ours.”

Shares of Barclays leapt 24½p after Mr Diamond said that Barclays Capital, the division behind several investment vehicles hit hard by the credit crunch, still managed to post a profit in August. The shares later lost the gains to close down 2½p to 580p. (source: Timesonline)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Typical Day for Mr David Gold

The Gold Group chairman wakes at his mansion in Caterham, Surrey, at 7am. “I try to do some exercise, or at least put on a tracksuit. Then my housekeeper prepares cereal and orange juice,” says Mr Gold.

First he drives round his 55-acre garden and golf course with his groundsman, checking tasks to be done. Then he conducts meetings before taking his helicopter to Birmingham, landing on the football club’s training pitches. “I might see Steve Bruce or the players,” he says. “And I try to walk through our businesses when I can.” The Gold Group HQ is close to his home, and Gold Air is down the road at Biggin Hill. He returns home by 7pm, landing on his floodlit tennis court. He often dines at Le Rendezvous in Westerham and has dinner with his daughters each week.

Mr David Gold relaxes by flying. He keeps a fleet of planes, which he charters out as Gold Air, and a helicopter. His daughter Jacqueline (CEO of Ann Summers) will to frequently ring and ask him for a lift. Gold Air is profitable, “with the rich and famous becoming more sensitive, demand is great.” But the helicopter is his favourite. “With jet fuel at 22p a litre, it’s worth it. And unlike your car, which drops in value, you can buy one for £500,000 and sell it for the same. There, that’s the most important thing you’ve learnt today,: buy a helicopter.”

Body Shop founder died

Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick has died at the age of 64. Dame Anita leaves her husband, Gordon, and daughters Sam and Justine behind after suffering a major brain haemorrhage. In February this year, Dame Anita revealed she was carrying the hepatitis C virus. She was famous for the Body Shop but also gained international recognition for championing many causes closes to her heart, from green issues to human rights and Third World debt.

Adrian Bellamy, chairman of Body Shop International, said: "Anita leaves us with an enduring legacy which will long guide the affairs of The Body Shop. Our heartfelt condolences are with the Roddick family at this sad time." Brendan Cox, executive director of Crisis Action, a charity funded by Dame Anita, said: "Anita was an inspiration. She showed the scale of what you can achieve when you fight for it. Her energy, ambition and idealism will be an inspiration to thousands for years to come.

"Anita challenged social entrepreneurs to raise their game. Enough bring and buy sales, let's change the global economy. She showed that tinkering at the edges wasn't where we should stop, we should get involved, get our hands dirty and change the world trying." Dame Anita founded the Body Shop in 1976 to create a livelihood for herself and her two daughters. he company spiralled into a global phenomenon despite the fact that Anita came into the retail world completely raw - with no business background. Thirty years on, the firm is a multi-national business with over 2,000 stores serving over 77 million customers in 51 different countries.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Crocs wins claim

CROCS, the maker of the plastic footwear, has stamped out a copycat supplier. CROCS is sported by George Clooney, Jack Nicholson and Teri Hatcher. UK Clobber has lost a legal claim on the import of various footwear, that CROCS said infringed its design right. Clobber's owner Tony Abhis said "the footwear has cost me £10 000 and it now expected to be destroyed" (source: The Londonpaper)

Sasol to transfer 10% of company to BEE

South African oil giant Sasol said it will “transfer 10% of the company to black owners to qualify under Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) rules. Sasol will sell the stake worth about 17.9bn rand ($2.4bn; £1.2bn) to black staff, investors and key partners in the biggest BEE deal to date.”

The government programme aims to redress the worst distortions of wealth created by the apartheid regime. Sasol's announcement coincided with the release of annual earnings, up 10%. "This transaction is ground-breaking, not only in terms of its size, but also in terms of its overarching ambition to create a legacy of building skills and capacity in the South African economy," said Sasol chairman Pieter Cox.

If approved by shareholders, the transaction will be implemented in 2008, the Johannesburg-based firm said. (source: BBC News)

Sainsbury's Bid continues

J Sainsbury has asked Delta Two is understood to have been given the green light from Qatar to increase the cash component of its £10.6 billion bid for J Sainsbury as it seeks the board’s backing to open the group’s books later this week.

Sources at Delta Two said (which is funded by the Qatari royal family) that they “plan to give in to the board’s demands by offering up to £500 million in additional cash”. Delta Two has given Qatar the green light to increase its bid for J Sainsbury, the third largest supermarket chain in the UK. The bid is currently at £10.6 billion as it seeks the board’s backing to open the group’s books later this week. Delta Two’s long-sought deal to acquire Britain’s third-largest supermarket chain is still far from settled, given that the bidders have yet to hold any talks with Sainsbury’s pension trustees or to gain the approval of its founding family shareholders.

The board, led by Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman, and Justin King, the chief executive, has argued that the level of debt included in the Qatari bid could make it more difficult for Sainsbury’s to compete in the event of a downturn in consumer spending. Delta Two owns a 25 per cent stake in Sainsbury’s and is its largest shareholder. (source: Times)

Friday, 7 September 2007

Virgin Radio

Eight years ago Virgin Radio was at a high with Chris Evans in charge, it had a fresh new style that appealed to advertisers and gained a loyal following. Chris Evans sold it to SMG in 2000 for £225 million, making a profit of £140 million.

Seven years on and times are far more challenging with radio advertising under pressure and competition between stations greater than ever. SMG is rumoured to be looking for from a flotation of £80 million. However, even this range has been met with skepticism from leading institutions with a history of media investment. In the year to December 31, 2006, operating profits at Virgin Radio were £2.3 million and revenue was £22 million.

A source at a leading institution said: “The radio sector has cost investors a lot of money in recent times and, although the outlook now appears better than at any time since the late Nineties, we still feel investors lack confidence in the medium, especially after the relative disappointment that DAB [digital radio] has proven to be. It would be surprising if investors were willing to pay a high valuation for Virgin.” Under the Virgin contract owned by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Radio is not to be sold to any company that is in direct competition with Virgin.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Aviation News

The first flight of the revolutionary new 787 Dreamliner has been delayed by Boeing by at least three months and now risks missing its deadline for first delivery of the aircraft next year. The wait for the 787, which will be 50% made from composite plastics, has orders worth $116 billion (£57 billion) and is one of world’s most high-profile industrial projects.

The company said yesterday that the first flight would now take place in “the late Fall”. More specifically, mid-November/mid-December. The original plan was for a first flight at the end of August 2007, but this was moved to mid-September and then late September during the summer. To an extent this echoes the problems that Boeing’s rival Airbus on its A380 project experienced. These delays eventually amounted to two years and have cost Airbus billions of euros in lost revenues and compensation payments to customers. Boeing’s first customer for the 787 is All Nippon Airways, which is due to receive its first aircraft next May.

The delay is being blamed on difficulties with the flight systems software and also with assembly documentation. Mike Blair, Boeing’s director for the 787 programme, said: “This is a really complex puzzle and we have to be really careful how we put it together. We won’t fly the 787 until it’s ready, so we will not speculate on an exact date.” The 787 is estimated to be at least 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than existing aircraft. Composites have previously been used only on military aircraft.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has called for an emergency general meeting of shareholders in Aer Lingus, its Irish rival, as the feud between the carriers reached a new low. Ryanair has been blocked by the European Commission from launching a full takeover of Aer Lingus, but it continues to exert influence through its 29.4% shareholding. Ryanair wants to force Aer Lingus’s directors to reverse a decision to drop flights from Shannon on the west coast of the Irish Republic to Heathrow in favour of a new base at Belfast airport in Northern Ireland. Ryanair believe that a more efficient operation on this route can generate an extra £2.7 million profits per year.

Ryanair insists that it is acting only to protect its financial stake, which last month it confirmed had increased by 4% to 29.4%. Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said: “If a 10% shareholder asks for an EGM to be held, they must hold an EGM.” Last week Aer Lingus reported that its profits in the first half of this year had fallen from €16.3 million to €6.8 million. (source: Daily Mail)

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

bmi looks east

BMI (formerly British Midland), the British airline, is abandoning plans to launch services to North America and is “looking east” instead, to the rapidly developing economies of the Middle East and Central Asia, including countries like Tehran, Almaty, in Kazakhstan, and Baku, in Azerbaijan. The airline’s long-held ambition to launch flights from Heathrow to the United States has been pushed back until at least 2009. Bmi’s decision to postpone launching Heathrow-US flights could be a shrewd maneouvre from chairman Sir Michael Bishop.

Bmi will continue to offer flights from Manchester to Chicago and Las Vegas. Its new destinations include Aleppo and Damascus, in Syria; Amman, in Jordan; Ankara, in Turkey; Beirut, in Lebanon, Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan; Ekaterinburg, in Russia; Tbilisi, in Georgia; and Yerevan, Armenia. The airline will also fly to African destinations including Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia; Dakar, in Senegal; Cairo, in Egypt; Khartoum, in Sudan; and Freetown, in Sierra Leone. The airline will spend $750 million (£372 million ) buying and leasing new aircraft to service these routes and it is investigating additional routes to Lahore, in Pakistan, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Kiev, in Ukraine. (source: Timesonline)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Staff at car-insurance giant, Admiral, will receive a £3million windfall after it posted 26% rise in half-year profits. More than 2000 staff will share in this windfall. The group owns and the highly successful (source: The Londonpaper)

The studios that are home to James Bond, PINEWOOD SHEPPERTON, today warned for a second time this year that several major film productions are likely to be delayed. First half revenues slipped to £18,4 million but pre-tax profits rose to 39% to £2.9 million. The interim dividend is lifted 11% t 1p. (source: London Lite)

Vodafone is preparing to take control of the mobile giant’s African joint venture. It is in talks with partner Telkom to raise its stake from 50% in Vodacom, which has 30 million customers in South Africa as well as smaller nations such as the Congo and Tanzania. Telkom is 38% owned by the South African government. The cost to take control can cost as much as £5 billion. Two years ago, Vodafone upped its stake in Vodacom from 35% to 50% at a cost of up to £1.35 billion. (source: Daily Mail)

Monday, 3 September 2007

From button sellor to Gold Group International

As a small, skinny, undernourished fifteen-year-old David Gold had dreams of playing for his local football club, West Ham United. To his huge distress his father Godfrey blocked his way in doing so, but the entrepreneurial businessman is now the charismatic chairman of Birmingham City football club. Along with younger brother Ralph he owns Gold Group International, one of the most profitable private businesses in the United Kingdom. It is the parent company of retailer Ann Summers, lingerie chain Knickerbox, executive jet charter company Gold Air International, and the brothers share ownership with David Sullivan in Sport Newspapers. In May 2005 he bought the oldest Surviving FA Cup trophy for almost half a million pounds at auction to prevent it going to Germany. In 2005, the Gold Family were place 92 on the Sunday Times Rich List with a wealth of £500 million. This is the remarkable story of Mr Gold who started out helping his mother sell buttons from a stall outside their house, moving indoors to convert their front room into a card and sweet shop, from there, he went on to run a bookstore in Charing Cross, and before long branched out into publishing, printing and distribution. Keep wathcing this space to learn more about Mr David Gold, our businessman for September.

News of the Weekend

Delta Two, the Qatari-backed investment fund trying to acquire Sainsbury’s, could beef up its £10.6 billion approach to the supermarket chain as early as this week. The Qatari-backed investment fund is considering improving its proposal by a further £500 million, after talks with the Sainsbury’s board last week. The board has been concerned that loading the company up with debt would harm its ability to compete with rivals. The talks between the two groups have remained confidential, with sources playing down speculation that Sainsbury’s had demanded that Delta Two make its best and final offer or walk away. A source said: “There’s progress being made and I don’t think they’re in that kind of position yet. The mood is still friendly.” Negotiations are expected to continue this week, with sources saying that there were a number of details to be hammered out.

Singapore Airlines announced a deal yesterday that will sharpen substantially its focus on the Chinese market and that industry insiders say could prompt the sale of its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic this year. Singapore Airlines announced that along with Singapore’s “sovereign fund” Temasek Holdings, it would buy a 24% stake in China’s third-largest carrier, China Eastern Airlines. Singapore’s deal will give it greater access to China; an air-travel market that analysts believe could expand by 500% over the next two decades and is expected already to represent 185 million passenger journeys this year. Singapore Airlines’ new stake in China Eastern Airlines with the agreed payment of about $918 million (£455 million), will give it limited control of one of the few loss-making airlines serving the booming Chinese market. Investors have criticised China Eastern heavily for its failure to turn a profit in the world’s fastest-growing air-travel market. The loss in China Eastern Airlines amount to about 3.31 billion yuan (£218 million).

Apple is expected to unveil a revamp of its iPod line on Wednesday with the launch of a long-expected full or wide-screen, touch control version of the digital music player. European journalists have been summoned by the California-based company to attend a briefing at the. Reporters summoned by the California-based company to attend a briefing at the BBC’s headquarters in London are to view a live broadcast of a presentation given by Steve Jobs, Apples chief executive. Mr Bailey an analyst with Goldman Sachs believes that “a new line of iPods will boost demand for the gadget from Goldman’s present forecast of about 19.8 million units for Apple’s key first quarter - the reporting period that covers Christmas.”

The founder of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is to launch a new search engine in December 2007. Jimmy Wales, who set up Wikipedia in 2003, believes that his new Wikia Search will rival top search engines, including the mighty Google, within three years. Unlike the algorithms used by other search engines to rank websites covering a particular topic based on the number of links that they have, users of Wikia Search will help to rank websites. Mr Wales said that “if you consider one of the basic tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision: ‘This page is good, this page sucks.’ Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgment, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way. But we have a really great method of doing it ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that.” Wikia Search will be set out to make profits, whilst Wikipedia with 8.2 million articles are free. Mr Wales has received backing from a number of business partners, including the Omidya Network, an organisation set up by Pierre Omidya, the founder of eBay. Profits will be made on advertising featured on the search pages.