Business

The who? what? where? of business this week

The week in business: Who's blundered and who's blossomed under the business news spotlight this week?

Bestriding the business agenda like the giants they are were Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The two companies' bosses provided plenty to pick over as investors, politicians, scientists, lawyers, and a hefty army of advisers, marshalled forces on their behalf.

Top quote goes to AstraZeneca's French boss Pascal Soriot. He painted the most emotional case heard in years for a company staying independent - in his case from US drugs giant Pfizer: "What will we tell the person whose father died from lung cancer because one of our medicines was delayed because our companies were involved in saving taxes or saving costs?"

Determined Pfizer boss Ian Read flew over from the US to woo investors and the political classes. He sat for two days in front of two committees of MPs, business and science. In an attempt to shrug off the "Kraft steals Cadbury" tag, he gave a five-year pledge on UK jobs and facilities, promising to complete an AstraZeneca research centre in Cambridge, keep a factory in Macclesfield, Cheshire, and place a fifth of research staff in the UK. Oh, less reassuringly the company also said it could adjust the promises if circumstances changed "significantly".

Empathy moment of the week from Barclays' boss, Antony Jenkins. "I know how you feel about bankers' pay", was the gist of what he told Andrew Marr. He said the bank would get value for money from its bankers. No more paying higher bonuses when profits fell. He added that he would "not be repeating the situation in which profits are down and bonuses are up". Even so, he says they need to pay a "competitive" rate to attract the best people. The "going rate" used to be the rallying call of the unions in the good old 1970s. Nice to see it remains in fashion for bankers.

Image copyright joseph joseph

Here's a nice look: The handsome brothers from Joseph and Joseph give us an interview: "Don't call us kitchenware, we're so much more than that"... The two didn't plan to go into business - but well-heeled folks with smart kitchens are glad they did. Simply, what would they do without that nest of mixing bowls/sieves/measuring spoon combo?

Image copyright MIT Sloan

I guess we need to give a "Big Up" to chancellor George Osborne for appointing Kristin Forbes, doubling the number of women to sit on the UK's interest rate setting Monetary Policy Committee. She has an excellent economic and political background (I should HOPE so). A former White House economic policy advisor, she's worked at the World Bank, Morgan Stanley and the US Treasury and most recently economics professor at the illustrious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She will be the second woman on the MPC, with Egyptian-born Nemat Shafik.

Image copyright Reuters

We'll stay with the Bank, as it's been a big week for it with the release of its quarterly inflation report. Close contender for quote of the week from governor Mark Carney: "Securing the recovery is like making it through the qualifying rounds of the World Cup - it's a real achievement, but not the end goal. The prize in the economy is sustained and prolonged growth," Brighter prospects for the UK economy - next year. The Bank raised that forecast, but left its prediction for this year unchanged at 3.4%. No need to raise interest rates yet - despite the sudden onset of commentators saying a housing bubble has developed.

We're awarding a bouquet of the week - every week for endeavour, clever or fatuous remarks - anything that strikes us, in fact.

This week Pfizer's indefatigable Mr Read gets it for endurance for his heavy meetings schedule - although in the interest of balance as we don't take sides on W(ho) W(hat) W(here) he'll have to share it anyway with AstraZeneca's boss.