October 2011 Archives
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) came in for some stick recently from the think tank Centre for Cities in a report reviewing the work of the 24 LEPs first approved a year ago.
The report asked whether Coventry's LEP, with its "huge" set of advisory teams including 14 associated focus groups, involving some 160 people, might "add a level of bureaucracy and process that might slow decision-making."
I'm no fan of the decision to abolish the RDAs and replace them with fragmented and resource-lacking LEPs, but feel that this particular criticism is a tad unfair on this particular LEP. Consulting widely in its first year is probably a good thing to do in setting priorities for the Coventry city and beyond, especially if the LEP is to develop a consensual approach to economic development. The think tank seems to miss the point on that.
So if I were to ask you which is the largest capacity sporting venue in India?
It'll be a cricket ground , of course ? So which is it ?
Well, Eden Park in Kolkota is the largest cricket ground in India - but its not even the largest sports stadium in Kolkota.
The largest ground ( in India - and in Kolkota) is the Salt Lake Stadium which has a capacity of 120,000 ( Eden Park is 100,000).
And what game do they play at the Salt Lake Stadium - well actually . . . football.
Much of the informed chatter coming out of Whitehall continues to focus on boosting international trade, on how the country can stimulate economic growth and employment opportunities through a robust approach to foreign markets. And it isn't just government that's pushing this agenda but also a host of business organisations, multipliers and stakeholders such as banks, accountants and lawyers.
Indeed, Lord Green, Minister for Trade, has made it an integral part of the UK's immediate export strategy to align and build on the relationships the multipliers have with their customer base to push the export agenda more widely. And why not, as any means that gets the message out effectively has got to be welcome - and who better than the business and service professionals, the multipliers, working alongside UK Trade & Investment?
A major barrier to export growth is confidence and knowledge. But how to find out what to do, how to do it and where to start? We know that businesses are inundated with invitations to business events. So much so, that sometimes there aren't enough hours to do the day job, let alone attend everything on offer. That's why at UK Trade & Investment we try very hard to make sure that anything we invite businesses to has a tangible outcome they can use.
One area of growth is Aid Funded Business. And there's a very good reason why SMEs should think about this area of export. Last year the United Nations alone bought and procured over US$10 billion of goods and services with an average contract size of just under than US$100,000. Dealing with major NGOs and Development Banks - such as the UN or the World Bank - can sometimes be intimidating to SMEs. But it really does help to have someone who's done it before to show you the ropes. We can help with advice; support; research and networks.
With the global total of Aid Funded Business so vast, there aren't many sectors that are not part of the picture. So is there anything in it for you? To find out, come along to a workshop called 'An Introduction to Aid Funded Business' being run by UKTI / Birmingham Chamber of Commerce at Villa Park on 29th November. For details contact: email@example.com
Swedish Automobile NV said today it aims to sell 100% of Saab Automobile AB and Saab Great Britain Ltd for €100 million to Pang Da Automobile Trade Company and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Company. Pang Da and Zheijiang Youngman have signed a memorandum of understanding on the deal.
But the deal needs the approval of Chinese authorities and Swedish Auto's shareholders, and the precise terms of the share purchase agreement still have to be sorted out, with the €100 million likely to be paid in instalments.
It's a Eurofudge song contest.
They're all singing from the same hymn sheet. The name of the hymn - 'Nearer, my taxpayer, to thee.'
There is no deal. There is only the pretence of one. The can has been kicked firmly down the road of cobbles made of Eurofudge.
All there is in the communiqué is an 'invitation' for what they laughingly call 'Private Sector Involvement' (PSI) to take a haircut:
"...we invite Greece, private investors and all parties concerned to develop a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors."
"The new programme should be agreed by the end of 2011 and the exchange of bonds should be implemented at the beginning of 2012." (emphasis mine)
'Invitations' and 'discussions' and calls to 'develop' a bond exchange are the key words here. This is nowhere near a done deal. We will all be back again late next month on this.
"Manufacturing isn't a skill it's a culture," says Simon Topman, Chief Executive, Acme Whistles.
"It's a culture and by both understanding your product and making it, you come to love it. That's part of the magic."
...A magic that comes to life as I climb the winding stairwell, covered in glorious crackle-glaze tiles of lemon quince, to join Simon in the company showroom at their Victorian head office in Barr Street, Aston.
Not many businesses can have had much more media coverage, especially in relation to their size. But then with an extrovert like Simon Topman at the helm it's hardly surprising.
"The scale and immediacy of the deterioration in the Eurozone could not have been foreseen before August."
So says Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, in evidence to the Treasury select committee this morning.
Well, had the governor been reading the Birmingham Post or checked into birminghampost.net in spring and early summer this year he would have been better informed and alerted.
With all due modesty, I did write here and in the print edition in March this year:
"What I will confidently predict is that there will be another European Banking crisis again, probably this year.
"I suspect that this mess at the heart of European banking will ultimately do for the Euro itself."
"Unless we untangle this interdependent mess at its roots and get bondholders to take a serious short-back-and-sides haircut then we are simply putting off the inevitable."
I also warned last November that the Euro would be on the brink of collapse if we simply bailed out interconnected banks across Europe.
In mid-July, I was also clear that the attempted Greek rescue package would end in failure :
"It would seem to me that time has been bought until the autumn and no more.
"If after today, however, the Spaniards and the Italians are still paying about 6% or more on their own sovereign debt and that remains so for the summer, then last night will have been irrelevant."
"We'll all be back to square one in late September and whatever the mechanism used last night will have been a paper exercise and no more."
I was sat at Birmingham Airport very early one morning last week and every headline I saw spelled doom and gloom - from Arctic freezes to market chaos to QE2 (and I don't mean the ship!) - it was enough to make you think the end of the world is nigh.
Yet, once on the 6.30am flight, it struck me that the plane was full to capacity with business people making the short hop to Brussels and there was an energy as people chatted about their business that got me thinking.
Business is still happening, companies are still being successful and positive actions are being taken.
How many times have you heard the phrase "make-or-break time for the Eurozone"? I've stopped counting. After numerous 'make-or-break' moments over the summer, last weekend was meant to be make-or-break, and the next make-or-break summit is this Wednesday's summit, er and then maybe next weekend as well.
Meanwhile the economic clock is ticking as financial markets become increasingly desperate for some resolution of the Eurozone crisis, and the risks of double dip and/or a new financial crisis grow by the day. It's ironic of course that those same financial markets were major contributors to the problem in the first place.
The failure of the Eurozone heads to get their collective act together has been lamentable, as has been pointed out by the Americans, the Chinese, and just about everyone else with an interest in avoiding another global crisis.
Ever wondered what happens to your Facebook profile when you die?'
Don't worry, I'm in good health, my morbid fascination is prompted by Facebook's, soon to be released 'TimeLine' feature, currently in Beta.
TimeLine produces a sort of scrapbook of everything that has happened to you since you joined Facebook, at the press of a button.
To see a chronology of your life, automatically generated, is a spooky reminder of just how much data is kept about our online activity and is more than a bit creepy.