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Sharp elbows


IT IS surely a promising sign for Terry Gou, the boss of Foxconn, that Japan’s largest business newspaper, the Nikkei, is reporting unflatteringly on his efforts to buy Sharp, a near-bankrupt electronics firm.

Diversity fatigue


RONALD REAGAN once said that “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.” Today they are run a close second by 12 words: “I’m from human resources and I’m here to organise a diversity workshop.” Most people pay lip service to diversity in public.

Crossing the desert


Subrata Roy smiles on through adversity FOR businessmen scrambling to raise money in a bid to stave off bankruptcy, conference rooms can feel like little more than gilded prison cells.

Sour grapes


Grapes of governmental wrath THE region around Diyarbakir, in Turkey’s conservative south-east, has a long but faded tradition of wine production.

Pointed questions

AT FACE value, there is little sense in the $5.6 billion proposal by Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, owned by Hon Hai of Taiwan, to buy Sharp of Japan.

In praise of the splits


Kocher and Mestrallet: a double act from now on LETTING go is hard, especially for a French boss. Consider Gérard Mestrallet, who for 15 years has run Engie, a giant energy utility formerly known as GDF Suez.

Doing the locomotion


DURING the crisis of 2008-09, Warren Buffett made two big bets in the midst of the panic. He bought a slug of preferred stock in Goldman Sachs.

Clunky Dorsey


The trials of St Jack FAITHFUL followers of Twitter believe that Jack Dorsey, one of the social network’s founders, is the only person capable of turning around the struggling firm.

Whizz kids

SOME sports, such as wrestling and sprinting, claim long histories. They were portrayed in cave paintings thousands of years ago.

Feeding the dragon


WITH roughly a fifth of the world’s population but less than a tenth of its arable land, China has had to look outside its borders to feed itself.

In the dark ages


FLORENCE is a city more associated with oil on paintings and salads than the stuff that comes out of the ground.

The dominant dozen


  When Cisco was crowned as the world’s biggest company by market value in April 2000, its boss hoped it would go on to become the first firm worth over $1 trillion.

If the game goes against you


IT IS one of America’s biggest family firms, with revenues last year of more than $30 billion. Yet unlike peers such as Mars, a maker of confectionery, Pilot Flying J is all but unknown overseas.

Bad romance


Another cost to cut? SHAREHOLDERS cheered in December when Dow Chemical and DuPont, the world’s fourth- and fifth-most-valuable chemicals companies, worth a combined $130 billion, announced plans to merge.

The big fight


T-MOBILE touts itself as America’s mobile-phone “Uncarrier”, having vowed to shake up its industry with customer-friendly ideas like ditching annual service contracts.

Succession failure


THE grand mufti of Saudi Arabia recently added a surprising new item to the familiar list of worries plaguing his region.

Of profits and prophesies

A GOOGLY is a ball bowled in cricket with unexpected spin. For years, Google was similarly hard to read, sharing only basic figures about its business.

Going once, going twice, going online


EVERYONE seems to agree that online auctions are important to the art world’s future. In 2013 Daniel Loeb, an activist investor, seethed over Sotheby’s “inability to even develop a coherent plan for an internet-sales strategy, much less implement one.” Sotheby’s has worked to remedy that, for example by joining forces with eBay and holding five online-only auctions last year.

Going once, going twice, going online


EVERYONE seems to agree that online auctions are important to the art world’s future. In 2013 Daniel Loeb, an activist investor, seethed over Sotheby’s “inability to even develop a coherent plan for an internet-sales strategy, much less implement one.” Sotheby’s has worked to remedy that, for example by joining forces with eBay and holding five online-only auctions last year.

Coming clean?


Sharp screens, fuzzy future FEW tasks are more urgent for Japan than the clean-up of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.


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