City Diary: Former Lloyds chief Sir Victor Blank is back in the game … in China

City Diary: Former Lloyds chief Sir Victor Blank is back in the game … in China

Bogged down in Boris Island

Don’t expect Boris Island, the Mayor of London’s pet airports project, to be rebranded “Margaret Thatcher International” if it gets off the ground.

Sir Howard Davies, the Government’s aviation adviser, claims the Iron Lady would never have endorsed Boris’s £40bn Docklands dream. Apparently, the boggy Thames Estuary marshlands would have been “far too wet” for the late Baroness.

Sir Howard was speaking at the Most Admired Companies awards hosted by Management Today magazine this week, where guests from BSkyB and BT – on rather frosty terms after BT Sport paid a near-£900m premium to snatch Sky’s prize Champions League rights – managed to avoid each other all night.

Tesco, too, wasn’t really in the mood to celebrate. After being ranked only 57 places above the “meth-ical” Co-op Bank in the league tables, at number 191, the ailing grocer was “not represented”.


Every little paid-for plug helps

Still, at least David Gray of Planet Retail, the research company, had some warm words for Tesco as it unveiled disappointing Q3 numbers yesterday. “Broadly speaking, [Tesco] will hold their position – particularly in those core Asian markets,” Gray told BBC Radio 4’s Today show.

Others, noting yesterday’s sales drops in those “core” markets in Thailand and South Korea, might disagree. But then Gray’s advice is perhaps not entirely independent.

A peek at the Planet Retail website shows its top client is … Tesco.


Ex-Diageo boss remains in good spirits

Paul Walsh shows no sign of slowing down after stepping down as chief of the FTSE 100 drinks giant Diageo in the summer. Diary hears he is looking to “get involved” with some start-ups and entrepreneurial projects.

But where will he find the time? Walsh has already announced he is to chair Avanti, the satellite company, and Compass, the catering group, from next year. Then, of course, there’s his – not yet fully disclosed – £80,000 retainer with Diageo as a consultant to the Scotch whisky industry.

Whatever it takes to keep Paul in good spirits…


There was only one problem with the Women in Mining party at the Mines and Money conference in north London this week. A lack of women.

In fact, one guest estimates there were ten men for every woman milling around the drinks table.

“Disappointing, but there you go,” says the (male) source. Time for the mining fraternity to dig even deeper for boardroom equality?


Co-op counsel is fully briefed

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. So legal hats off to Brona McKeown, who has been confirmed as the new general counsel of the Co-op Bank.

At least McKeown has her eyes wide open.

Prior to her most recent posting at Coventry Building Society, she spent her formative years looking after “all aspects of legal and regulatory risk” during the Bob Diamond era at Barclays.


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