Friday, 17 December 2010

Tomorrow is Pay Day

Tomorrow, Saturday 18th December, the last Saturday of Christmas shopping should be a big day for High Street retailers. There premises should be full of hopeful shoppers trying to pick up a present for a friend or family member and the cash registers should be filling up with other people's hard earned cash.

However tomorrow is PayDay, the culmination of UKuncut's campaign against the corporate tax dodgers Vodafone and Arcadia, owned by Philip Green.

Let's not forget also the tax avoided by Mothercare and Boots.

Ukuncut have organised, and more importantly inspired, peaceful protests across the country, usually taking the form of a group of protestors appearing outside a store and attempting to temporarily shut it down. If they can do this to sufficient sites tomorrow they will seruously dent the profits of the tax dodgers.

Pay up Phil, it'll be cheaper in the end !!!

Good luck to anyone involved in aprotest tomorrow. Remember, keep it loud but keep it peaceful.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010

Yes2AV or No2AV that is the question

I'm posting on a subject other than the Boycott of the business of the 35 cuts-supporting fat cats today for a couple of reasons.

1. I'm so angry at the scenes I witnessed yesterday outside the home of our 'democracy' where violent thugs wearing police uniforms were assaulting people trying to protect their livelihoods and education that if I think about it any longer longer I'm liable to do myself an injury, and

2. I've been 'tweeting' with people from the YES2AV campaign as I'm genuinely unsure how I will vote, or even if I will vote now that the LibDems have made a virtue of abstentianism, in next May's referendum on changing the voting system. I said I would post up my ideas, as I can't fit them into a 140 character tweet so here they are.

A bit of personal history on the subject.

When I first got involved in party politics in the 80's I opposed PR in all its forms. This was largely because I suspected it was simply a ruse to improve the political fortunes of the LibDems and would do little to improve people's lives.

My position on this changed however when I saw the tories retain control of our local council, of which I was a member, despite having the same number of councillors elected as the combined opposition parties and elected on many fewer votes. The tories then launched an all out offensive against public services cutting everything they could find. Had that council been elected by PR there would have been some kind of coalition formed and extreme behaviour prevented.

So I was turned into a PR convert, but each system of PR I looked at seemed to be devised with the aim of helping one political party or the other. I could not see one that seemed to regard the wishes of the electorate as paramount. I then started to devise my own systems, but more of that later.

The referendum in May does not propose PR, which is the first reason I hesitate to vote Yes. It proposes changing the voting sytem from First Past the Post to the Alternative Vote.

Another reason to hesitate is that it is supported by the LibDems who have shown themselves to be totally untrustworthy. You rarely buy a wreck from the same car dealer twice.

First Past the Post (FPTP) is the system we are all familar with. Whoever gets more votes than any other individual candidate wins. It was devised back in the days when there were rarely two candidates let alone more than two and all the electors could meet in one room. In those days only male landowners could vote. In that context FPTP worked. However we are no longer living in the early 1800's.

The Alternative Vote is where each elector indicated there preference for candidates by listing them as choice 1,2,3 etc. If no candidate receives of 50% of the votes cast the lowest polling candidate is eliminated and the second preferences of their voters added to votes of the other candidates. The process is repeated until one candidate has over 50% support.

Sounds fairer doesn't it, but look at it in the context of UK politics and it sounds like a scam.

The first thing I noticed about AV that I did not like was that this first group of people to have their second vote counted are those who supported the candidate who polled the least. That means those who support the least popular set of policies have their second say before those who come 3rd, 4th or 5th. That seems to favour extremists.

UK Politics is highly tribal. People tend to grow up with a political identity based on social status. For example David Cameron's conservatism was inevitable given his privileged background. He didn't just read Adam Smith and Milton Friendman and decide he agreed with them. He instinctively identified with the politics of his class and rationalised accordingly. The thing is, he is not alone in this, we all do that. We know who is 'on our side' and who is not. Professor Dawkins could probably explain the reasons for this much better than I could as I suspect it's an evolutionary thing linked to the protection of identiable tribal groupings.

Whatever the reason, political allegiance and the perception of others' political allegiance seems fixed. People may change parties, but they rarely change their motives or their principles, if they have any.

So in this context it is easy to see that in a three way contest fought under AV a Tory supporter would put the Labour Party, his historical class enemy, as his bottom choice, and a Labour supporter would do the same with the Tories.

This means the LibDems would pick up the majority of second preferences of whichever other party polled third. It is therefore a simple calculation to see that the LibDems would be favoured to take any seat where a, the winning candidate polled less than 50% and b, they are currently in second place.

(This analysis does not take into account the current suicidal behaviour of the LibDems in breaking pledges and voting against the interests of aspirational parents who want to see their kids go to university.)

This is why I have doubts as to how to vote on the referendum. FPTP is bad and AV is just as bad.

Were this a conversation at this point someone would shout out 'Ok, then what's you're idea' and it would be a fair call.

Ok, I have two mutually exclusive solutions.

My First system. d'Hondt Plus.

This is not completely my own idea but does have a twist I've added myself.

The UK uses the d'Hondt system to elect its Euro MPs. Every voter chooses the party of their choice and the number of seats awarded to each party is roughly proportional to the number of votes cast. There is a complex mathematical formula used to determine who gets which seat which can be found here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27Hondt_method .

The problem I see with the d'Hondt system is that although voters decide which parties get each number of seats it is the party managers, through a listing system, who decide which of their candidates are actually elected.

I would propose that we change this so that each elector has the opportunity to also vote for each candidate.

Under the system I would propose there would be two ballot papers. The first would be the existing ballot paper where you decide which party receives your vote. The second would list all the candidates individually and you could vote for up to the number of seats available. All Euro seats are multi-member and all Westminster seats would become likewise.

This way voters could express their dis-satisfaction with a candidate without having to change their party allegiance. In the light of the recent expenses scandal people could vote for their party of choice and unelect a perceived crook without voting for another party.

Equally if a voter had a particularly strong view on an issue on which all parties were split, such as say, membership of the Euro, they could vote for pro or anti candidates in all parties and so have their view better represented.

If you supported a minority party and knew your favoured party were unlikely to win any seats you could use your vote to determine which candidates of other parties were elected.

As you can probably imagine party managers would hate this system as it places the power to elect firmly in the hands of the electorate and eliminates safe seats, as no seat would be safe as you could lose it to someone in your own party.

This system requires multi-member seats representing 5 - 8 current constituencies to work.

My second system is more radical, more representative in its results and is a bigger change from the current system. I call this 'All In'

Under the 'All In' system the number of MPs elected becomes less relevant than the number of votes they gained.

The basic idea is that instead of a MP with a majority of 1 being the equal of a MP with a majority of 50,000 votes cast in the House of Commons by MPs are weighted to reflect the number of votes each candidate received.

This changes our democracy from being a 'representational' system to being a 'delegatory' system where each voter decides which candidate to delegate their vote to during the next parliament.

The way it would work would be that every candidate polling more than a threshold figure would be elected, but governments would form on polling strength rather than number of MPs as no party would have a majority in terms of number of MPs but may do so in terms of popular vote.

Votes in the House would be more like shareholders meeting where the voting strength of each MP would be different and would be the number of votes they received in the election.

The downside to this is that unless we combine constituencies into larger blocks we could end up with a lot more MPs, and that might not go down very well. We could of course change their system of remuneration to one of performance pay linked to their number of votes so the power to pay them lies in the hands of the only people whose opinion matters, the electors.

The upside is that if all MPs vote on a piece of legislation it will succeed only if a majority of those whom the electorate cast their votes for vote for it, making parliament more representative of the country.

Both my systems envisage larger multi-member constituencies because I believe this would work better than the current system. I know from experience that someone looking for assistance from an elected representative will rarely go to his or own if they are from a party the elector does not trust. They would rather go to someone from the party they do support even if that means dealing with an MP or councillor from another area. With multi-member seats we are all more likely to end up with someone we voted for.

Let me know your views in the comments.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Boycott Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge

Philip Green is a retail billionaire who advises the Conservative led government on 'efficiency', that called 'sacking people' outside board rooms and conservative circles.

He is Britain's ninth-richest person with assets worth around £4.43bn in 2008.

Taveta Investments, the company used to acquire Arcadia in 2002, is in the name of Green's wife, Cristina Green, a Monaco resident, avoiding £285 million in tax that would be payable if a UK resident owned the company. When Green paid his family £1.2bn in 2005, it was paid for by a loan taken out by Arcadia, cutting Arcadia's corporation tax as interest charges on the loan were offset against profits. In comparison, staff at Arcadia were told in 2005 that members of its final salary pension scheme must increase contributions by half and work five years longer to qualify for the same payout.

UKuncut are currently campaigning against Philip Green and his unpaid taxes http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/29/philip-green-protest-alleged-tax-avoidance?CMP=twt_gu

Let's show some solidarity and support UKuncut.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Boycott Expansys, Stonehaven Associates, Yell Group

Bob Wigley is another businessman for whom the corporate boardroom appears to be a natural habitat.

He is Chairman of Expansys, Stonehaven Associates and Yell Group. Between 2008 and 2009 Bob was Chairman of Sovereign Reversions plc.

Expansys is an online electronics store selling mobile phones, sat navs, laptop tvs etc.

Yell Group own and produce Yellow Pages and the yell.com web site.

Stonehaven LLP is a recruitment and personnel advisory firm. They are focused on boardroom and senior level recruiting and management assessment in the Corporate, Institutional and Financial Services sectors.

Sovereign Reversions operate in the equity release market, convincing retired people to borrow money using the equity in their property as collateral. This means that Sovereign can pick up the property cheap later.

This is how this practice is described on Sovereign's web site.

Sovereign Reversions buys property assets at a discount to vacant possession value. It benefits from the elimination of this discount when the homeowners leave their home or die, and from the long term appreciation of property values.

They actually boast about the 'discount' and 'benefits' they get when people move into care or die. I thought I had found a sick one when I wrote about Nick Prest's arms dealing through Cohort PLC but I think this may be worse.

Bob Wigley was appointed as Ambassador for UK business by the Prime Minister in 2010.

Bob WigleyBob is on the Advisory Board of the venture capital firm Bluegem LLP and is the European Financial Services Operating partner of the venture capital firm Advent International. Bob is the former chairman of Merrill Lynch EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). He held a number of management positions at Merrill Lynch, serving from 2003 to 2004 as chairman of EMEA Corporate Banking, global co-head of Telecom and Media Investment Banking in 2002, co-head of U.K. Investment Banking in 2001 and co-head of Corporate Broking in 2000. He was educated at Exeter School and the University of Bath. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

He is Chairman of the National Education Employer Partnership Taskforce. He is Chairman of the Green Investment Bank Commission and on the International Advisory Council of the International Centre for Financial Regulation. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Cranfield School of Management’s Doughty Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, the Advisory Council of Business for New Europe and is a Visiting Fellow of Oxford University and Chairman of Oxford University’s Centre for Corporate Reputation. In 2008, he chaired a panel of leading London financial services company CEO’s for the incoming Mayor of London, Boris Johnson producing a major report on how to maintain London’s competitiveness in global terms for the decade ahead and as a reward now sits on the Mayor’s Panel of Economic Advisers and the Advisory Council of TheCityUK. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce and is Master of the Court of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and has a business degree and an honorary doctorate from Bath University.

On 18th October, Bob Wigley signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Bob Wigley is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Expansys, Stonehaven Associates, Yell Group. There are lots of recruitment agencies out there, just steer your personnel people in other directions.






This post marks the completion of the entries on each of the companies represented on The Offending Letter of 18th October. These posts will now be revised, improved, clarified, have sources added and linked to, kept up to date with any new information that comes to light on the companies and the signatories and generally made easier to find and index by search engines on the web using what knowledge of SEO I have picked up over the last decade of working in the online search and affiliate marketing industry.

Please let me know if anything on this site is or becomes out of date or wrong.

Boycott Robert Walters PLC

Robert Walters plc is a professional recruitment consultancy that focuses on placing high calibre professionals into permanent, contract and temporary positions. Established in 1985 by current Chief Executive Officer, Robert Walters, Robert Walters plc today has 41 offices in 20 countries. Robert Walters PLC acquired Dunhill Management Services in 2001, and launched Walters Interim, its junior professional contract recruitment business into France in 2005, Belgium in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2008. In February 2008, the Group acquired Talent Spotter, a specialist recruitment business headquartered in China with offices in Shanghai and Suzhou.

They opened an office in Seoul this year. That must be a hairy placed to work with tension building again between North and South Korea, and with Sarah Palin unable to identify friend from foe.
Robert WaltersRobert Walters is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Robert Walters PLC

After graduating with a degree in economics and politics in 1975, Robert joined Touche Ross. In 1978 he joined Michael Page International plc, initially working in its commerce division and subsequently set up and ran its public practice unit. In 1982 he set up and managed its New York office. He resigned in 1984 and founded the business of Robert Walters in 1985.

On 18th October, Robert Walters signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Robert Walters is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Robert Walters PLC. THere are lots of recruitment agencies out there, just steer your personnel people in other directions.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Boycott Sage Software

Sage produce business software and services. The range includes software to manage business' finances, run the payroll, manage customer and supplier relationships, plan the business and support your HR function. In the UK, they provide software and services to over 760,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

This software ranges from accounts, payroll, forecasting and business intelligence to customer relationship management, e-business and help for start-ups.

Sage's services include Excel Support, HR Advice, Health and Safety Advice and training courses.

It is the world's third largest supplier of enterprise resource planning software (behind Oracle and SAP), the largest supplier to small businesses, and has 6.1 million customers worldwide.

Paul Walker joined the company by accident 20 years ago. Born and raised in Sheffield, he qualified as an accountant with Arthur Young, “doing bits and bobs to do with computers”. He soon felt the urge to try something more entrepreneurial.

In 1984 Walker was introduced to David Goldman, who had spent 20 years running a printing business in Newcastle. He had seen the business potential of a book-keeping software package created by academics and students at Newcastle University.

That's right, Sage was set up on the back of the intellectual property of a state-subsidised body.

Sage’s co-founders included Paul Muller, an American computer specialist who worked on the Apollo moonshots. Muller set up a computer business while lecturing on astronomy at Newcastle University.

He worked with students including Graham Wylie, who created the first piece of Sage software. Muller became Sage’s technical director, leaving the marketing of the business to Goldman.
Paul Walker joined Sage in 1984 and was appointed Chief Executive in 1994. He stepped down with a reported £21M exit settlement in October this year. He had earlier join the boards of Experian and Diageo.

Just before he left Sage, on 18th October, Paul Walker signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Paul Walker is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott all Sage products and services.

This is an easy one to boycott unless you run your own business or are an accountant, as Sage is a standard accountancy tool. There are however alternatives available including the aforementioned Oracle and SAP.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Boycott Fuller's Beer, Pubs and Hotels

Fuller's have been brewing beer at the Griffin Brewery in Brentford since 1845. Their brands include London Pride, ESB, Discovery and Honeydew. They also own the Gales' range of beer following their purchase and closure of Gales' Brewery in hampshire in 2005. Fuller's has an estate of approximately 360 pubs split between managed and tenanted houses mostly in London and the South East but also in Avon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and the West Midlands.

Michael Turner - Fullers
Fuller's also own 6 hotels; The Chamberlain Hotel, in the City, London; The Fox & Goose Hotel, Ealing; The Mad Hatter Hotel, Nr Blackfriars' Bridge London; The Red Lion Hotel, Uxbridge; The Santuary House, Westminster and the White Hart in Hampton wick.

Michael Turner is Executive Chairman of Fuller, Smith and Turner. He is a fifth-generation descendant of John Turner, who co-founded the Fuller's brewing empire in 1845.

Michael is an Old Etonian who then went on to Harvard Business School. He qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Whitney. He joined in the company in 1978. Initially he ran the Wine Division as Wine Director becoming Marketing Director in 1988, Managing Director in 1992, Chief Executive in 2002 and Chairman in 2007.

On 18th October, Michael Turner signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Michael Turner is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott all Fuller's beers, pubs and hotels especially over the festive season. There's always a better pub not far away.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Boycott ASOS (As Seen On Screen)

ASOS.com describe themselves as "the UK's largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer. With over 35,000 branded and own label products available and over 1500 new lines added each week, ASOS.com is rapidly becoming the market leader in the UK online fashion world" which in plain speech means it's a website with a warehouse at the back-end selling clothes and beauty products.

Aimed primarily at fashion forward 16-34 year olds, ASOS.com attracts over 6.9 million unique visitors a month and has 2.9 million registered users.

Nick Robertson - ASOSNick Robertson of ASOS (centre)

Nick Robertson is the Chief Executive of Asos. He failed to get anything above a "D" at his A-levels while a student at the independent Canford School in Dorset. He had a comfortable upbringing in suburban Surrey financed by his father's career as a successful advertising executive.

Low and behold in the small world of London based advertising agencies Nick started his career in 1987 with Young and Rubicam and in 1991 moved to Carat, the UK’s largest media planning and buying agency. In 1995 he co-founded Entertainment Marketing, a marketing services business, and in 2000 he co-founded ASOS.com.

On 18th October, Nick Robertson signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Nick Robertson is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Asos.com.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Boycott AVEVA, Cohort PLC and The Shephard Group

Nick Prest signed the offending letter of 18th October as Chairman of AVEVA. He is also Chairman of Cohort plc and Chairman of The Shephard Group, so these companies are profiled as well.

Please note AVEVA is not a typo for Aviva, the insurance company previous known as Norwich Union; the two are not connected.

There is a disturbing theme to Nick Prest's companies.

AVEVA provides engineering IT software to the plant, power and marine industries. It is now listed on the FTSE250 but AVEVA's origins lie in the public sector with public money building it up to be a the centre of excellence it became.

The Computer-Aided Design Centre (or CADCentre as it was more commonly referred to, and later formally became) was created in Cambridge UK in 1967 by the UK Ministry of Technology. Its mission was to develop computer-aided design techniques and promote their take-up by British industry. Its first director was Arthur Llewelyn who initially contracted out the recruitment and management of specialist staff to ICL.

The centre carried out much pioneering CAD research, and many of its early staff members went on to become prominent in the worldwide CAD community, such as brothers Dick Newell and Martin Newell. Dick Newell oversaw the creation of the extremely successful Plant Design Management System (PDMS) for 3D process plant design, and later co-founded two very successful software companies - Cambridge Interactive Systems (CIS) which was well known from its Medusa 2D/3D CAD system, and Smallworld with its eponymous Smallworld GIS (Geographical Information System). Martin Newell later went to the University of Utah where he did pioneering 3D solid modelling work; he was also one of the progenitors of PostScript.

Along with the Cambridge Science Park, CADCentre was arguably the most important single factor in what became known as the Cambridge Phenomenon - the transformation of Cambridge from a distinguished and beautiful but rather sleepy small University town into one of the world's high technology centres within a few short years in the 1980s. Many people who had worked at CADCentre went on to found their own successful software companies.

CADCentre was privatised in 1983, was the subject of a management buyout in 1994 and became a publicly quoted company in 1996. It changed its name to AVEVA in 2001.

In January 2006 Nick Prest joined the board of AVEVA plc becoming Chairman in April 2006.

Cohort plc, describes itself as a 'defence technical services business'.

Cohort plc is the parent company for three innovative, agile and responsive businesses operating in defence and related markets. It aims to add real value through the experience and contacts of its senior team while providing a light-touch but effective governance framework. Its objective is to deliver consistent and growing value to shareholders through its three operating subsidiaries: MASS, SCS and SEA.

MASS is an independent UK systems house with a defence and aerospace market focus. Formed in 1983, the company is based near St Neots in Cambridgeshire with a second facility in Lincoln. MASS joined Cohort in August 2006.

SCS provides independent technical advice and services primarily but not exclusively to the defence and security sectors. Formed in 1982, the company is based in Theale, Berkshire. SCS became the first member of the group in February 2006.

SEA (Group) Limited (SEA) is an independent systems engineering and software company operating in defence, aerospace, transport and offshore markets. Formed in 1988, the company is based in Beckington, near Frome, with offices in North Bristol (near MOD). SEA joined Cohort in October 2007.

The Shephard Group has been providing high-quality business intelligence to the aerospace and defence market, through a combination of magazines, online news services, handbooks and global events. Particularly well known within the helicopter, unmanned vehicles, defence electronics, military airpower and civil aviation markets.

The Shephard Group is a global company. In 2008, they operated in Oman, Australia (where they delivered the largest helicopter exhibition in the region), Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Belgium. Of course, the UK is very important to them, and their appointment as the organisers of the official conference for Defence Equipment & Support is a reflection of their imbeddedness with the Ministry of Defence.

Nick PrestNick Prest, Chairman of AVEVA plc, Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd

After graduating with an MA from Oxford, Nick Prest began his career as an administrative civil servant in the MOD in 1974. After an MBA course at Bradford Business School, Nick then moved within the MOD to the Defence Export Services Organisation. In 1982, he left the MOD to take a marketing role at United Scientific Holdings, predecessor of Alvis plc (Alvis). He was appointed marketing director in 1985, with overall responsibility for the order intake of the Alvis Group worldwide, and became chief executive in 1989. Alvis developed into one of the world's leading contractors in the specialist field of armoured vehicles before being acquired by BAE Systems in 2004. Nick was appointed chairman of Alvis in 1996.

In the 1990s Nick also held a prominent role in arms industry affairs in the UK, acting as Chairman of the Defence Manufacturers Association and Vice-Chairman of the Defence Industries Council. He left Alvis following its acquisition by BAE Systems in 2004. In January 2006 he joined the board of AVEVA plc becoming Chairman in April 2006. In March 2006 he was appointed Chairman of Cohort plc. In December 2007 he became Chairman of Shephard Group, a privately owned arms and aerospace media group. He is a member of the Council of ADS, the UK trade association serving the arms, aerospace, space and security industries. He was chairman of the Defence Manufacturers Association from 2001 to 2004. Nick is chairman of AVEVA plc, Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd.

He was awarded a CBE in 2001 for services to the arms industry, also known as 'killing people abroad'.

The number of people who have died as a result of the activites of Nick Prest is unknown but what is known is that on 18th October, Nick Prest, former MOD civil servant and chairman of a company created with public funds and privatised to suit the dogma of the government in 1983, signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

This would be fair enough if this were to involve reduced public expenditure on companies like Nick's and the rest of the arms industry, but somehow I don't think that's on either his or the government's agenda.

For this reason Nick Prest is considered a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott AVEVA plc, Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd. In fact we should work with CATT to shut down Cohort plc and Shepherd Group Ltd as they deal in death.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Boycott Hammerson, Brent Cross Centre, Birmingham Bullring

Hammerson is a property development and investment company. It invests mainly in offices and retail premises.

This means we can boycott Hammerson by staying away from the shopping centres it owns.

Hammerson have interests in several major retail developments, including:

* Brent Cross, London, England
* Cabot Circus, Bristol, England
* Espace Saint-Quentin, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
* Highcross, Leicester, England
* Italie 2, Paris, France
* Les 3 Fontaines, Cergy-Pontoise, France
* O'Parinor, Aulnay-sous-Bois, France
* The Bullring, Birmingham, England
* The Oracle, Reading, England
* WestQuay, Southampton, England
* Union Square Shopping Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland

Hammerson own six London office buildings, which provide 105,000 m² of prime accommodation including 125 Old Broad Street and 99 Bishopsgate.

The firm switched to Real Estate Investment Trust status when REITs were introduced in the United Kingdom in January 2007. This means that they can buy a share of a retail premises without buying the premises themselves. This also means that they pay no tax on their income, or on their capital gains, but do pay on their dividend income the properties generate. Hammerson describe this arrangement as 'tax-efficient'. I think we know what that means.

John Nelson - Hammerson PLCJohn Nelson, a Chartered Accountant, was appointed Chairman of Hammerson in 2005. He had joined the board the year before. He is also a non-executive deputy chairman, Kingfisher (annual pay, £63,000); non-executive director, BT (annual pay, £50,000). His pay at Hammerson is £200,000 per year. (source http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/article587653.ece )

On 18th October, John Nelson signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason John Nelson is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott all Hammerson properties including the Brent Cross Centre, The Birmingham Bullring and Cabot Circus, Bristol.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Boycott Cheapflights.co.uk, The Betting Group, lovefilm.com & Inmarsat


The subject of today's blog is Rick Medlock, who is a man of many parts leading to a range of companies to avoid if you can.

Rick Medlock was appointed a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Audit Committee of Cheapflights.co.uk in May 2008.

Cheapflights.co.uk is a price comparison site for flights. One alternative site is skyscanner.net. There may be others.

Rick is also the CFO of Inmarsat who operate 11 satellites that provide voice and data communication worldwide. This will be a tricky one to boycott as you may be using Inmarsat whenever you use a mobile phone or watch live TV or even when using the web. They own and operate the hardware your telco, TV station or ISP use to relay whatever signal you're after. Very hi-tech, very clever, very hard to avoid. When they idea of a boycott was first mooted on CiF one sceptic posted that it would be hard to boycott Inmarsat. I fear he may turn out to be correct.

lovefilm.com is a couch-potato's dream. They are an online film and games rental company. Basically they're Blockbuster without the walk to the shop. They even sell view online subscriptions so you don't even have to move from your PC to your TV. Rick is a non-Executive director of lovefim.com. The alternative is to get some exercise by walking down to the video shop, or going on an anti-cuts demo.

The Betting Group. For the first time since starting this blog I have drawn a total blank as to who or what The Betting Group is. A Google search directs me to betfair.com, but I can find no mention of Rick Medlock on the betfair site and have to assume that Google is sending me there because betfair is 'A' betting group, although possibly not 'The' Betting Group. If anyone can send me links to any information sources I would be deeply grateful. My email is betting at howtowinelections dot co dot uk.

Business Week reports Rick's income as being £582,000 per year.

Rick Medlock joined the Board of Inmarsat in September 2004. Prior to joining Inmarsat, he had served as chief financial officer and company secretary of NDS Group plc since 1996. Mr. Medlock previously served as chief financial officer of several private equity backed technology companies in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mr Medlock is a non-executive director of Cheapflights Limited and Lovefilm International Limited and is Chairman of their Audit Committees. He is also a non-executive director and senior independent director of OpenBet Technologies Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. Mr. Medlock holds an MA in Economics from Cambridge University.

On 18th October, Rick Medlock signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Rick Medlock is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Cheapflights.co.uk, lovefilm.com, The Betting Group (once I work out who are and what names they trade under) & Inmarsat (if you can).

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Boycott Mitie & Dalkia

Mitie is a Group operating through numerous trading names. The brands to be boycotted are shown in bold.

Mitie Group is a British outsourcing and asset management company with their head office in Bristol. MITIE operates mainly in the UK and Ireland with a growing presence in Europe. It provides infrastructure consultancy, facilities management, property maintenance and a range of energy management services to its customers.

Their strategy of growth through acquisition has seen MITIE acquire several businesses over the past few years and in 2006 it acquired Initial Security, a leading security business. Following on in 2007 MITIE acquired Robert Prettie & Co. Ltd for £32.7m and incorporated the specialist plumbing, heating and mechanical services business into their Property Services division. In 2008 MITIE continued its acquisitions strategy through the acquisition of Catering Partnership, and DW Tilley. The purchase of DW Tilley allowed MITIE to extend their roofing services nation-wide. 2009 saw the acquisition of Dalkia Facilities Management for £130m to bolster its Technical Facilities Management capability and an expansion into Social Housing with the purchase of Environmental Property Services (EPS) for £38.5m. In 2010, MITIE acquired the integrated facilities management business of Dalkia in Ireland.

Who is paying for all this? We are through Mitie's public sector contracts.

Mitie is split into four divisions: Facilities Management, Technical Facilities Management, Property Management and Asset Management.

Mitie, whose annual report for 2010 notes: "The public sector faces the prospect of considerable pressure on expenditure in the coming years. We believe that this will create significant opportunities for the outsourcing market as contracts will tend to become larger and broader in scope . . . we believe that in subsequent years we will benefit from the efficiency agenda that is expected to impact central and local government."

So when Ruby McGregor-Smith in an interview with the Evening Standard in April waxed "lyrical about the huge potential opportunities that every outsourcing company in the land is eyeing following next week's General Election." That's our money, jobs and services that Ruby was eyeing up in the way a vulture eyes up a dying lamb. To say these people feed on the misery of others is truly not an overstatement.

Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/markets/article.html?in_article_id=503561&in_page_id=3#ixzz15fwk82X4

Around 40% of all Mitie's work is in the public sector, spanning healthcare, social housing and providing security for Britain's courts. For a relatively low-profile company, Mitie also has a lot of high-profile private sector customers. Its staff guard Marks & Spencer stores and the British Museum, as well as cleaning for Royal Bank of Scotland, Brittany Ferries and Everton Football Club.

National interest, or vested interests?

Outsourcing is a con and Mitie are in it for the long haul. The argument presented in favour of outsourcing is that it is cheaper to get someone else to do something for you than to do it yourself. This may be true if the task involves a technical complexity that you would not want tackle yourself; most of us bring in a plumber when we need one after all. But large scale business and public sector outsourcing does not work like this. The jobs that are outsourced to parasites like Mitie are the low-skill, low-pay, non decison-making jobs that overpaid CEOs think are beneath them to even manage let alone do. This is treating people as cattle or pawns on a chessboard, to be sacrificed for the good of the Queen.

Speaking of whom, Ruby McGregor-Smith has been Chief Executive Officer of Mitie Group plc since March 30, 2007. Previously, she served as Chief Executive of Mitie Services (Retail) Ltd. She served as Chief Operating Officer of Mitie Group plc from September 9, 2005 to March 30, 2007 and its Group Finance Director from December 2002 to April 2006. Prior to that, she was employed in senior financial posts at Babcock International Group PLC and Serco Group PLC. She has been an Executive Director of Mitie Group PLC since December 2, 2002. Ruby McGregor-Smith has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of Michael Page International plc. since May 23, 2007. After school and sixth-form college, she studied economics at Kingston Polytechnic, then joined accountancy firm BDO before leaping into the world of outsourcing by joining Serco in 1991. She climbed the Serco ladder for nine years in a variety of finance and operational roles.

Her current Total Annual Pay Package at Mitie is £1,037,000 (Business Week).

On 18th October, Ruby McGregor-Smith signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's. She was no doubt thinking of the lucrative contracts her tory friends would be passing her way as they sacked underpaid public servants and employed Mitie at twice the cost and half the service.

For this reason Ruby McGregor-Smith is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott all Mitie Businesses.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Boycott BT

There can't be many people in the UK that don't know and have had to deal with BT. This information is provided mainly for overseas visitors.

BT provides communications solutions and services, Operating in more than 170 countries. Their principal activities include networked IT services, local, national and international telecommunications services, and higher value broadband and internet products and services.

BT is the current name of what was formerly British Telecom, formely British Telecommunications, formerly the telecommunication part of the General Post Office. The organisation that became BT was owned by the British people until 1982, when in a blaze of publicity it became the first part of the nation's 'family silver' (quote Lord Stockton) to be handed over to investors and asset strippers at below value.

One of the things that prevents people from completely boycotting BT is there strangehold on the local loop, the line that run from your home or business to the telecom provider's network. Local loop unbundling is addressing this but there is another way to bypass BT.

I moved home in March 2008 and at my previous address I receive telephone and broadband services from Tiscali, but they rented the line from BT so I was effectively paying BT even though I had given up their services a year earlier due to appauling service from their call centre in Bangalore who spent a month denying my report of a fault on the line even though we had to have several conversations about it on my mobile because trying to talk on the house phone was impossible due to the bad line. Yes, you did read that right.

Anyway after that I moved to Tiscali and wanted to take them with me when I moved to my current address but here's the thing, the house had no landline connection. The previous occupant, who had been here over 50 years, used a mobile for phone calls and had cable broadband installed for accessing the Internet. All it took for me to have a non-BT house was to add a phone service to the cable broadband service and it was done.

I won't say I never have problems but they are nothing as compared to the nightmare I had with BT.

Ian Livingston was appointed chief executive of BT Group on June 1st 2008.

When appointed he was offered a basic salary of £850,000, up from the £554,000 he received as head of BT Retail. On top of this, he could expect to add £1.7 million in annual bonuses, £1.7million as a deferred bonus in shares that vest after three years, and £2.55 million in incentive shares if the group hits its top performance targets, taking the total to £6.8 million.

In May 2010 Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted overwhelming for a full strike ballot after rejecting a 2pc pay rise. The union, which represents 55,000 BT employees called for a 5pc rise.

Staff were angry that Mr Livingston's bonus more than tripled to £1.2m, taking his total pay to £2.1m. He will also collect £1.2m worth of shares if he stays with the company for a further three years. A year earlier Mr Livingston's total pay was £1.2m after he collected a bonus of £343,000 in the wake of the company's second-ever full-year loss.

Let's remember this company was once a national asset. Now it is a cash cow for executives. Someone should 'Tell Sid'.

Previously, he was chief executive of BT Retail, a position he held from February 2005. Prior to this, Ian was group finance director for BT Group from April 2002.

Before joining BT, Ian was group finance director of the Dixons Group from 1997. He joined Dixons in 1991 and his career with the electrical retailer spanned a number of operational and financial roles, both in the UK and overseas.

Earlier in his career Ian worked for 3i Group and the Bank of America International. He was previously a director of Hilton Group plc (now Ladbrokes plc) and also a director of Freeserve from its inception.

Ian is also a non-executive director of Celtic plc althoguh he lives in Elstree. He holds a BA in economics from Manchester University and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1987.

On 18th October, Ian Livingston signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's. This would have been unthinkable were BT still in public hands and it's board answerable to the public.

For this reason Ian Livingston is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott all the BT Group's Businesses.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Boycott Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s

Health warning : There appears to be a degree of inconsistency in the information I have been able to find out about both Prestbury Group and Nick Leslau. For instance, some reports describe Nick Leslau as a rags-to-riches success story, and other sources say he attended a prep school and then the same private boarding school that gave us Richard Dimbleby and Denis Thatcher.

Equally whilst Prestbury are a property company and own interests in The Trocadero, a number of properties on Oxford Street, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s, I cannot establish whether they own a 100% interest in those properties and I cannot establish a portfolio of their interests.

In this light you may wonder why I'm posting about Prestbury. The answer to that is that this blog will, when complete, have a page containing the relevant details concerning the business interests of each of the signatories to the Offending Letter and these will all be subject to the possibility of updates as and when information comes to light or when it changes.

Prestbury Group Plc is a property investment company that owns the likes of The Trocadero, a number of properties on Oxford Street, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s.

In 1997 Nick Leslau and Nigel Wray started their own small property company Maybeat Limited, which they reversed into one of Michael Edelson's Alternative Investment Market listed shell companies called Prestbury Group plc. This company was floated on the alternative investment market with the two property entrepreneurs delivering a 150% increase in net asset value in just two years. While the collapse of the property market towards the end of the 1990s impacted heavily upon the value of Prestbury Group, and other property companies, this did not stop the two property giants from taking the business private nearly 10 years ago.

A company by the name of Prestbury Investment Holdings was set up to acquire the old Prestbury Group with an array of property giants happy to become involved, including the likes of Sir Tom Hunter. Leslau is currently chairman and chief executive of Prestbury Investment Holdings which now has a property portfolio valued at £2.2 billion – owning the likes of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s.

Max Property

In 2009 Nick Leslau launched Max Property onto the alternative investment market with the backing of the American Och-Ziff hedge fund. It is rumoured the US investor ploughed £25 million into the operation, a figure which will be matched by the company’s management. The directors list is very impressive and includes Aubrey Adams, a former chief executive of Savills the estate agents and Mike Brown the former chief executive of property group Helical Bar.

Prestbury Investment Holdings stands to receive fees of around £18.75 million over the next seven and a half years in a complex management arrangement which will see a minimum fee of £625,000 a quarter received by Nick Leslau’s company.

Max Property appears to be registered in Jersey and I'm not sure of its full relationship with Prestbury, or its tax status. This is taken from Max Property's website:-

The company’s strategy is to exploit the current cyclical weakness in the UK real estate market through opportunistic investment and active management with a view to realising cash returns for shareholders over an investment cycle of approximately seven and half years from listing on 27 May 2009.

The company will invest in assets over a five-year period. After the end of those five years it will not seek new acquisitions and it will manage and realise its assets with a view to making a final return to shareholders over an investment cycle which, depending on prevailing market conditions, is anticipated to be seven and a half years from May 2009.

Which sounds like carpetbagging to me.

Nick LeslauNick Leslau is a Chartered Surveyor who filled the role of Chief Executive of Burford Holdings plc for approximately ten years until his resignation from the board of Burford in 1997. He became non-executive Chairman of Prestbury Group Plc in December 1997 and was appointed Group Chairman and Chief Executive of Prestbury Group Plc on 1 January 1998. Nick has been Chairman and Chief Executive of Prestbury Investment Holdings Limited since it commenced business in October 2000. Nick is the Chairman of Prestbury Investments LLP. He has sat on many quoted and unquoted company boards and is a Member of the Bank of England Property Forum.

Nick Leslau lives in a £30 million property he bought in Mayfair, London. He owns a Mediterranean based yacht. As a lover of sport, Leslau owns one of W.G. Grace's cricket bats, and is a part owner of Saracens F.C. Rugby Union club. Nick Leslau is estimated to have a personal fortune in the region of £200 million.

Thanks to his friend Tom Hunter, Leslau became interested in solving the world's problems: in 2006 they had a working holiday in Ayacucho, Peru; in 2007 to Malawi to help build an orphanage. In early 2008, Leslau took part in the Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire, giving away £400,000 in a ten day visit to Possil, Glasgow.

So he does have a good side.

On 18th October, Nick Leslau signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Nick Leslau is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s.

Post script added 4th November 2011

Property Weekly reported on 10th June that Prestbury were the owners and landlord's of 21 nursing homes operated by the now failed company, Southern Cross. As you may remember Southern Cross went bust threatening the care of thousands old elderly people. I don't know if was the rent they had to pay to Nick Leslau's Prestbury Group that forced them into liquidation but it couldn't have helped.

Nick didn't worry about the victims of the Southern Cross scandal for long though as the following month he embarked on the grandest undertaking of his career, he bought the historic St Katharine Docks near the Tower of London for £156m.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Boycott Hornby, Motability and Umeco

Neil Johnson signed the offending letter as Chairman of Umeco, but he is also the Chairman of Hornby and Motability.

Hornby

Hornby is a household name and is famous as the UK brand leader in the model railway hobby. All Hornby manufacture was moved to China in 1995, losing more British jobs.

Motability

Motability Operations is a not-for-profit company that runs the Motability Car Scheme, and more recently, the Powered Wheelchair and Scooter Scheme. The largest fleet operator in the UK and the biggest supplier of used cars to the trade, we are owned by the major banks: Barclays Bank plc, Lloyds Group plc, HSBC Bank plc and Royal Bank of Scotland plc.

Motability sell over 145,000 used cars a year. The number of cars they purchase each year accounts for no less than six per cent of all the new cars sold in the UK.

Umeco

Another tricky one to boycott directly as their supply chain does not involve retail sales, but like ARM Holdings, Umeco can be boycotted through a boycott of the companies they supply. So a significant part of this blog describes Umeco's relationship with other companies. As has become standard practice for this blog, companies and brands to be boycotted are shown in bold.

Umeco describe themselves as 'a leading provider of value-added distribution and supply chain management services, and composite materials primarily to the aerospace and defence, automotive and motorsport and wind turbine industries'.

Umeco is managed through two business streams:-

Umeco Composites - comprises a Structural Materials business and a Process Materials business. With seven operating units located throughout the UK, Europe and the US, it provides a range of services, products, design expertise and tooling solutions principally to the aerospace market and other users of advanced composite materials.

Customers include Boeing, Airbus, BAE Systems, manufacturers of wind turbine blades, a number of manufacturers of high performance super cars and Formula 1 teams.

Umeco Supply Chain - a leading international provider of value-added distribution and supply chain outsourcing services to customers in the aerospace & defence market. With its specialisation in the supply of small and medium value components and sophisticated IT systems, its growing global customer base can enjoy significant operational, cost and working capital benefits. The Supply Chain businesses trade globally as Pattonair.

Customers include Rolls-Royce plc, BAE Systems, Safran Group, Parker Aerospace, Goodrich, Thales Aerospace, Turbomeca, ATK, Lockheed Martin and the US Department of Defense.

Umeco started in 1917 with the name University Motor and Engineering Company Limited, and it is an acronym of this title that is the source of the Umeco name. For many years the Group traded as a motor vehicle distributor in the south of England, before acquiring various businesses involved in the electrical and marine industries.

In 1983, Umeco made its first entry into the aerospace sector when it acquired Fluid Transfer Limited, a manufacturer of aircraft refuelling equipment. This was followed in 1987 by the acquisition of Pattonair, a specialist distributor of components to the aerospace sector. With a developing specialisation in the aerospace sector, the businesses involved in other industrial sectors were gradually disposed of.

During the 1990s, increasingly sophisticated services began to be offered to aerospace customers as expectations of service grew beyond the basic role of a distributor. The Group expanded its capabilities in order to provide direct line feed, kitting and service provider facilities.

In addition to acquisitions, significant growth has been achieved, most notably through the long term contract with Rolls-Royce plc originally signed in November 1999. Now extended, the contract will now run until December 2015. Under this contract, the Group provides a dedicated logistics service to manage the supply of a wide range of components to Rolls-Royce plc's European aerospace operations. Recent extensions to the contract, including that signed in November 2007, have led to a broader range of parts and services being supplied to Rolls-Royce plc.

Umeco's Supply Chain activities were expanded in November 2005 through the acquisition of Provest (now renamed Pattonair), based in Italy. This acquisition was funded by a 4 for 9 rights issue, which raised £48.4 million, net of expenses. In France, Pattonair announced major long term contracts with Thales and Turbomeca in December 2006 and February 2007 respectively.

More recently, in November 2008 Pattonair in North America announced it had secured a long term contract with ATK.

In March 1999, Aerovac was acquired and provided the Group with its first composites activity, focused principally on the European composite market. Coverage of the global composites market was enhanced in September 2000 with the acquisition of Richmond. In May 2004, the Group completed the acquisition of ACG, a leading supplier of advanced composite materials to the motorsport, automotive and aerospace & defence sectors with manufacturing operations in the UK and the US.

In August 2007, the Group acquired JD Lincoln. Based at two sites in California, JD Lincoln formulates and manufactures a range of pre-preg materials primarily used by aerospace tier 2 suppliers for the manufacture of composite interior structures of commercial aircraft.

In December 2008, IPM was acquired. Based in Northern Italy, IPM is a leading manufacturer of vacuum bagging films for the composites industry. Aerovac and Richmond are major customers for IPM, who onward supply to the rapidly growing wind energy market.

During the year to March 2008, Umeco undertook a strategic review as a result of which the Board decided to focus the Group on its larger and faster growing business activities of Composites and Supply Chain. This led to the divestment in November 2007 of the Group's smallest business stream, Repair & Overhaul; and, in March 2008, of the Group's aerospace chemicals distribution businesses. The cash consideration received from this divestment programme was £49.0 million.

In August 2009 Brian McGowan retired as Chairman and in October Neil Johnson was appointed to replace him.
Neil Johnson - UmecoNeil Anthony Johnson, OBE has a long and complex history of board room operations. He started his business career in the engineering and motor industry. He served as a Director at Jaguar, Land Rover and Rover Group.

He was the Chief Executive Officer for the RAC Holdings from 1994 to 1999.

He was also the Managing Director of European Automotive Operations for British Aerospace.

He has been the Non-Executive Chairman of Hornby PLC since December 22, 2000.

He is currently Chairman of Motability Finance Limited (MFL) and Motability Operations Group (a financial business owned by the UK clearing banks).

He was the Chairman of Autologic Holdings Plc from May 25, 2006 to October 2007.

He was Chairman of RSM Tenon Group plc (formerly, Tenon Group PLC) until December 5, 2006.

He has been a Non Executive Director of Hornby plc. since July 1, 1998 and UMECO PLC since October 19, 2009.

He served as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of Autologic Holdings Plc from January 23, 2006 to October 2007.

He served as a Director of Tenon Group plc and RSM Tenon Group plc. He served as a Director of Tenon Ltd.

In the 1980's he was seconded to the Ministry of Defence for a Command Appointment. He also directed the Engineering Employers Federation ("EEF") for a term of office in the early 1990's.

Until January 2010, he was a Director of Cybit Holdings Plc.

He has been Chairman of UMECO PLC since October 19, 2009 when he left Promethean World PLC and his 2009 pay and stock option package of £306,745 (source: Business Week).

He is also a member of a Ministry of Defence Advisory Board and an 'Independent' Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority where in 2009/10 he attended 12 out of 35 meetings he was due to attend. His claims of 'Independence' will be tarnished by his public support for the financial policies of George Osborne.

He was HM Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the City of Westminster for fourteen years until 2007, and also served for five years as a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Panel for the Citizen’s Charter.

On 18th October, Neil Johnson signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Neil Johnson is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Hornby, Motability Operations Group and Umeco through their customer like Rolls-Royce.



NOTE: An earlier version of the post stated the Hornby also owned the Meccano brand. Meccano have been in touch with me and assured me that this is not the case. I apologise for this error which was caused by Meccano appearing prominently on the Hornby corporate website and my misinterpretation of this. Although Meccano was devised by Frank Hornby, of the Hornby Brand Meccano became a separate company some time in the past ans has no connection with Neil Johnson. The call to boycott Meccano is therefore rescinded.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Boycott Tullow Oil

This entry is included for completeness so that the companies of all 35 fat cats can be profiled. It is not completely clear what the mechanics of boycotting Tullow Oil would involve as I've been unable to establish their supply chain.

Tullow Oil is the largest independent oil company in Britain and has a market valuation of $13bn (£7.8bn) (2009 valuation). It operates in 22 countries. Its largest activities are in Africa, where it first explored gas fields in Senegal and has discovered new oil provinces in Ghana and Uganda, produces oil and gas in five countries and has exploration projects in 13 countries.

In 2000 it bought BP's North Sea Gas Fields for £200m. Tullow Oil's big gamble came in 2004 when it bought Energy Africa. The deal doubled the company's size and gave it a large presence in Africa.

Tullow Oil plc is one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in Europe. The Group has interests in over 85 exploration and production licences across 23 countries and focuses on four regions: Africa, Europe, South Asia and South America. The Group has production from eight countries and two development projects in Ghana and Uganda where it has discovered new oil provinces.

Aidan Heavey is from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon and educated at Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare and at University College, Dublin. He trained with R. J. Kidney & Co. from 1974 to 1978 when he qualified as an accountant. He left R. J. Kidney & Co. in 1979 to join Aer Lingus as a Financial Controller before joining Tullow Engineering in 1981.

Tullow Engineering was a small family-owned firm based near Dublin. The firm had a subsidiary, Tullow Oil, running fuel oil tankers. Heavey decided to buy out the subsidiary, relaunching the company in 1985 as an oil-producing company with horizons far beyond the shores of Ireland.

He got the idea after being tipped off by a banker who told him that the world was littered with valuable oil fields that were ignored by big companies because they were too small. Heavey plumped for Senegal to base his new venture, even though he was not entirely sure where it was.

He mortgaged himself up to the hilt and sold his collection of vintage cars to raise the cash for the new company.


A founding Director and shareholder of the Group, Aidan Heavey has played a key role in the development of Tullow from its formation in 1985, to its current international status as a leading independent oil and gas exploration and production group. A Chartered Accountant, he previously held roles in the airline and engineering sectors in Ireland. Aidan is a director of Traidlinks, an Irish-based charity established to develop and promote enterprise and diminish poverty in the developing world, particularly Africa.

Aidan Heavey's pay at Tullow Oil is £1,525,378 as of 2009.

On 18th October, Aidan Heavey signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Aidan Heavey is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Tullow Oil.

 Added 16th July 2013 : -

When  looking for something else I came across this page http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/10/21/michael-goves-constituency-receives-over-60000/. 

It would appear Aidan Heavey's links with the Conservative party extend to funding  Michael's Gove's Surrey Heath Constituency to the tune of £10,000 between May 2010 and October 2011. I wonder what he got for that,  I think I'll start investigating some of the other signatories and see which MP's have lined their pockets, or those of their associations, with the cash of people with the aim of destroying our public services.




Saturday, 13 November 2010

Boycott Whitbread and Reed Elsevier

The posts on this blog are becoming more complicated and the research for each is taking longer as the network of corporate backscratching emerges.

The subject of today's post is Anthony Habgood who manages to spread his time between being Chairman of Whitbread and Reed Elsevier, two seemingly unrelated businesses. Because of the large number of brands related to these two businesses the brands to be boycotted are shown in bold in what is fast becoming a convention on this blog.

Whitbread is a global hotel, coffee shop and restaurant company headquartered in Dunstable. Its largest division is Premier Inn, which is the largest hotel brand in the UK with around 580 hotels and over 40,000 rooms. Its Costa Coffee chain has around 1,600 stores across 25 countries and is the second largest international coffee shop chain in the world. Its other brands include the restaurants Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns.

Reed Elsevier is a global publisher and information provider. It is a FTSE100 and FT500 Global company. The Reed Elsevier group is a dual-listed company consisting of Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The company came into being in Autumn 1992 as the result of a merger between Reed International, a British trade book and magazine publisher, and the Dutch science publisher Elsevier NV.

In 1880, Jacobus George Robbers started a publishing company called NV Uitgeversmaatschappij Elsevier (Elsevier Publishing Company NV) to publish literary classics and the encyclopedia Winkler Prins. Robbers named the company after the old Dutch printers family Elzevir, which, for example, published the works of Erasmus in 1587. Elsevier NV originally was based in Rotterdam but moved to Amsterdam in the late 1880s.

In 1894, Albert E. Reed established a newsprint manufacturing mill at Tovil Mill near Maidstone, Kent. In 1903, Albert E Reed was registered as a public company. In 1970, Albert E. Reed merged with the International Publishing Corporation and the company name was changed to Reed International Limited. The company originally grew by merging with other publishers and produced high quality trade journals as IPC Business Press Ltd and women's and other consumer magazines as IPC magazines Ltd. The original family owners, the Reeds, were Methodists and encouraged good working conditions for their staff in the then-dangerous print trade.

Up to the 1930s, Elsevier remained a small family-owned publisher, with no more than ten employees. After the war it launched the weekly Elseviers Weekblad, which turned out to be very profitable. A rapid expansion followed. Elsevier Press Inc. started in 1951 in Houston, Texas, and in 1962 publishing offices were opened in London and New York. Multiple mergers in the 1970s led to name changes, settling at Elsevier Scientific Publishers in 1979. In 1991, two years before the merger with Reed, Elsevier acquired Pergamon Press from Robert Maxwell (yes THAT Robert Maxwell).

Reed Elsevier conducts its business through the following divisions:

* The science and medical publishing division is Elsevier.
* The legal publishing division is LexisNexis.
* The business division is Reed Business Information.

Key products

ScienceDirect contains over 25% of the world's science, technology and medicine full text and bibliographic information.

Scopus is the world's largest abstract and citation database of research literature and quality web sources. Scopus is updated daily.

Reed Business, Reed Elsevier's global Business division, is a provider of magazines, exhibitions, directories, online media and marketing services across five continents. Its prestige brands serve professionals across a diverse range of industries. These brands include Variety, New Scientist, totaljobs.com, Elsevier, Kellysearch, and the World Travel & Tourism Market.

Reed Elsevier has been criticised for the high prices of its journals and services, especially Elsevier and LexisNexis. Members of the scientific community have called for a boycott of Elsevier journals and a move to open access publications such as those of the Public Library of Science or BioMed Central. http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/journals.html

Well known publications include The Lancet and Grey's Anatomy. Their Health Sciences division publishes over 700 journals and 2,000 books and clinical reference works annually and offers a portfolio of online tools in education, practitioner reference and point of care.

A full list of periodicals published by Elsevier can be found here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_periodicals_published_by_Elsevier.

Organisation of Arms Fares

Members of the medical and scientific communities, which purchase and use many journals published by Reed Elsevier, agitated for the company to cut its links to the arms trade. Two UK academics, Dr. Tom Stafford of Sheffield University and Dr Nick Gill, launched petitions calling on Reed Elsevier to stop organising arms fairs. A subsidiary, Spearhead, organised defence shows, including an event where it was reported that cluster bombs and extremely powerful riot control equipment were offered for sale.

In February 2007, Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, published an editorial in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, arguing that Reed Elsevier's involvement in both the arms trade and medical publishing constituted a conflict of interest. He suggested that if academics began to disengage with Reed Elsevier, the company would be likely to end their arms fairs, as arms fairs only comprise a small proportion of their business.

On 1 June, 2007, Reed Elsevier announced that they would be exiting the Defence Exhibition business during the second half of 2007.

This means that the company no longer organises arms fairs around the world. The decision followed a high-profile campaign, co-ordinated by CAAT, which highlighted the incompatibility of Reed's involvement in the arms trade and their position as the number one publisher of medical and science journals and other publications. CAAT welcomed the decision and applauded the board of Reed Elsevier for recognising the concerns of its stakeholders.

They do however still organise non-arms related exhibitions including The London Book Fare.

So pressure on them can work. This is not pointless posturing.

Anthony Habgood was appointed chairman of Whitbread PLC in August 2005. He was appointed Chairman of Reed Elsevier in 2009. He was director/chief executive of Tootal Group plc from 1986-1991 having previously spent 16 years with the Boston Consulting Group Inc., 9 of them as a Director. He has also been non-executive director of Geest plc, Powergen plc and NatWest Bank plc and Marks & Spencer plc from 2004-2006. He was formerly Chairman of Bunzl plc and of Mölnlycke Healthcare Limited.

He received his BA Economics from Gonville & Caius College at Cambridge in 1968 and his MA in 1971. He received his MS in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970.

Business Week estimates Tony's pay from Reed Elsevier alone at £291,667 p.a., not bad for a part-time job.

On 18th October, Anthony Habgood signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Anthony Habgood is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Whitbread and Reed Elsevier brands, hotels, restaurants, publications, exhibition and overpriced coffee shops.

Albert Edward Reed was a philanthropist who established good working conditions for his employees at a time when this was almost unheard of. He must be spinning in his grave at the news that the head of the business that still bears his name can call for government action designed to cause widespread poverty amongst the descendents of those same workers who lot he sought to improve.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Boycott ARM Holdings

Another tricky one for a lot of people but this time I can offer some assistance. Some of you may be saying 'Who?'.

Amongst other things ARM make chips that go into phones, PDAs and handheld games consoles. The brands you will have to boycott are shown in BOLD.

ARM Holdings is a British technology company headquartered in Cambridge. The company is best known for its processors, although it also designs, licenses and sells software development tools under the RealView and KEIL brands, systems and platforms, system-on-a-chip infrastructure and software. It is probably the best-known of the Silicon Fen companies. The company was founded as a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and VLSI Technology (as Advanced RISC Machines), intended to further the development of the Acorn RISC Machine's RISC chip, which was originally used in the Acorn Archimedes and is now the processing core for many custom application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

The company is considered to be market dominant in the field of mobile phone chips.

ARM processors are used as the main CPU for most mobile phones, including those manufactured by Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung; many PDAs and handhelds, like the Apple iPod, Nintendo Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, Game Park GP32 and GamePark Holdings GP2X; as well as many other applications, including GPS navigation devices, digital cameras, digital televisions, network devices and storage. The WLAN processor of Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) is an ARM9.

Unlike other microprocessor corporations such as AMD, Intel, Freescale (formerly Motorola) and Renesas (formerly Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric), ARM only licenses its technology as intellectual property (IP), rather than manufacturing its own CPUs. Thus, there are a few dozen companies making processors based on ARM's designs. Intel, Texas Instruments, Freescale and Renesas have all licensed ARM technology. In 2007, 2.9 billion chips based on an ARM design were manufactured.

The ARM architecture is licensable. Companies that are current or former ARM licensees include Alcatel-Lucent, Apple Inc., Atmel, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Digital Equipment Corporation, Freescale, Intel (through DEC), LG, Marvell Technology Group, Microsoft, NEC, Nuvoton, Nvidia, NXP (previously Philips), Oki, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sharp, STMicroelectronics, Symbios Logic, Texas Instruments, VLSI Technology, Yamaha and ZiiLABS.

The iPhone uses a 620MHz ARM CPU.

Warren East ARMWarren East was appointed Chief Executive Officer of ARM Holdings in October 2001. For this role he is paid an annual salary of £415,000 and an annual bonus of £286,501. Hence his total annual remuneration is £701,501. Not a lot of recession in his house then.

He joined ARM in 1994 to set up ARM’s consulting business. He was Vice President, Business Operations from February 1998. In October 2000 he was appointed to the board as Chief Operating Officer and in October 2001 was appointed Chief Executive Officer. Before joining ARM he was with Texas Instruments. He is a chartered engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute. He is a non-executive director of Reciva Limited and a non-executive director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of De La Rue plc. hE was educated at Monmouth School and Oxford University where he studied Engineering
Science, and Cranfield University where he did an MBA.

On 18th October, Warren East signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Warren East is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott those products that use ARM Holdings components, patents, designs and software.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Boycott Arup

This one might be a bit tricky as Arup are not a company with a retail or public facing business, so advice on the merchanics of a boycott would be welcomed. They are included on this site for completeness as I am trying to compile similar information on all the 35 plonkers who think because they make more than the cleaner in their offices that they are entitled to call for wholesale cuts and jobs losses without repercussions.

Arup are an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services in construction. The firm is present in the Americas, Australasia, East Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and now has over 10,000 staff based in 92 offices in 37 countries.

Arup was founded in Ireland 1946, as the Danish Ove N. Arup, Consulting Engineers by Sir Ove Nyquist Arup. Sir Ove set out to build a firm where professionals of diverse disciplines could work together to produce projects of greater quality than was achievable by them working in isolation. In 1963, together with the architect Philip Dowson, Arup Associates was formed to offer multi-disciplinary architectural and engineering services. In 1970, the firm reformed as "Ove Arup & Partners".

Arup has no shareholders or external investors, and is owned wholly by trusts whose beneficiaries are its past and present employees who receive a share of the firm's operating profit each year.

Arup are best known for their design work for the built environment. Projects to which it has contributed include the Sydney Opera House, which is largely credited with launching Arup into the premier league of engineering consultancies, 30 St Mary Axe, known as The Guerkin, and the famous 'wobbly' Millenium Bridge which opened for one day and had to be closed for two years for repairs.

Philip Dilley joined Arup as a graduate engineer in 1976 and worked his way up the company, with stints in Japan and the Gulf. In 1993 he became Director of Ove Arup & Partners following his successful win of the £700million Kansai International Airport in 1989 and by 2004 he was appointed as Head of Arup’s Europe and Middle East Region where he was responsible for delivering over 50% of the firm’s global turnover.

On 18th October, Philip Dilley signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

This was ironic as Arup sacked 400 people in 2009, so claiming, as the letter did, that the private sector could create replacement jobs for those lost was a triumph of hope over experience for Dilley.

For this reason Philip Dilley is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Arup in any way you can, although in effect it mat be that only those responsible for commissioning building projects will have the opportunity to directly exclude them from the process.

At the time of this posting Philip Dilley is on a tour of China and South Korea as part of a trade delegation with David Cameron, George Osborn, Vince Cable and other signatories to the letter including Stefano Pessina, Executive Chairman of Alliance Boots (registed officce address in Switzerland), Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, Ben Gordon, chief executive of Mothercare (registered office address in the Netherlands), and Bob Wigley, Chairman of Yell Group plc where they will all be spending your taxpayers' money promoting the interests of their companies and not the UK.

We're all in this together? You're having a laugh!

Update 19th January 2011

The tour of the Far East may not have been a great success for Arup as they've just announced that they are sacking 15% of their UK staff. See - Arup Culls 670 UK Jobs - for details. Philip's still there of course.

It would seem that the replacement jobs promised by the 35 signatories to replace the 500,000 lost as a result of the cuts they supported aren't going to come.