Thursday 18 December 2014

Fenwick out as Dow Jones boss

media

Published 23/01/2014 | 02:30

RUPERT Murdoch's News Corp has ousted Lex Fenwick from the chief executive position at Dow Jones, less than two years after he took the helm, an abrupt departure that calls into question the future of its news wires and other products aimed at financial institutions.

News Corp, which owns Dow Jones, did not explain the departure but said it was reviewing the one-size-fits-all strategy Mr Fenwick had put in place for its news wires and other products. The bundled product offering that resulted, known as DJX, alienated some of the banks, hedge funds and retail brokers that were its main customers because of its rigid pricing structure. It has yet to gain traction in the marketplace.

Mr Fenwick was seen by some as a controversial leader, known for his hard-charging style and expletive-laced outbursts. Following his arrival, a significant number of senior executives left the company.

"We're reviewing the institutional strategy of Dow Jones with an eye towards changes that will deliver even more value to its customers," News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said. William Lewis will take over as interim chief executive. Lewis worked at News Corp's British newspaper unit and the 'Financial Times'.

NOKIA INVESTORS SET FOR WINDFALL FOLLOWING SALE

MOBILE PHONES

AS NOKIA nears the completion of the $7.4bn (€5.5bn) sale of its handset unit to Microsoft, investors may find out as early as this week how much of the proceeds – if any – will be theirs. The Finnish company may return as much as €3bn to shareholders, pledging some of it as soon as tomorrow in the form of a regular annual dividend, Deutsche Bank predicts. Nordea Bank estimates the payout could reach €3.7bn, with Nokia probably announcing it in the second quarter.

Chairman Risto Siilasmaa, who is currently evaluating candidates to succeed Stephen Elop as chief executive, needs to balance shareholder demand for cash rewards with the company's growth ambitions. Too generous a payout would risk leaving Nokia with insufficient funds for investments and takeovers as it builds a future without the mobile-phone business that made it famous.

"What's required to run the business should be left in, and the excess must be distributed to shareholders," said fund manager Markus Larsson. "It's reasonable that the balance sheet wouldn't be left overflowing with cash."

The Finland-based manufacturer is set to gain €5.44bn from the divestment of the money-losing phone division it expects to complete this quarter. That would boost the company's net cash to €6.4bn.

VATICAN BANK ASKS ITALY TO RESUME RELATIONS

BANKING

THE VATICAN bank has asked Italy to resume normal banking relations with it, which have been effectively frozen since 2010, saying it had made great progress with new anti-money laundering provisions. "The (bank) looks forward to a resumption of full interaction with Italian financial institutions pending review by Italian regulatory authorities of the Holy See and Vatican City State's (pictured below) anti-money laundering provisions," a report said.

Italian banks stopped dealing with the Vatican Bank in 2010 after the country's regulator told them they had to enforce strict anti-money laundering criteria if they wanted to continue working with it. That year, Rome magistrates investigating possible money laundering froze €23m held by the Vatican Bank in two Italian banks. The money was released but the investigation continues.

The Vatican Bank was thrust back into the spotlight on Tuesday when Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former Vatican prelate on trial for an alleged plot to smuggle €20m into Italy, was further charged with laundering millions through the bank.

Pope Francis has vowed to make church finances meet global standards of transparency.

He has not ruled out closing the bank if it cannot be reformed and last July said it was clear that Scarano "is no saint".

NO BONUSES AS IBM STRUGGLES TO REACH TARGETS

TECHNOLOGY

IBM has missed revenue expectations for the fourth consecutive quarter as the world's biggest technology services company grapples with weakening demand for its servers and storage equipment, particularly in growth markets like China. As a result of the disappointing results, chief executive Ginni Rometty and her team will forego their annual incentive payments for 2013 as last quarter's revenues fell 5pc and the company's total 2013 revenues came in 2pc lower to $99.8bn (€73.6bn).

Hardware revenue plunged 26pc in the quarter, leading to a $750m collapse in profit for that segment.

Emerging market sales dropped 6pc, led by China, where IBM reported a 23pc collapse in revenue.

A backlash against US government spying in emerging economies and a move by Beijing to encourage state-owned companies to buy domestically-branded products contributed to plummeting demand, analysts said.

DISCOVERY 'RULES NOTHING OUT' IN TV RIGHTS WAR

BROADCASTING

DISCOVERY Communications said it will raise its stake in Eurosport, making it more competitive against British Sky Broadcasting and BT in bidding for TV sports rights. "This control gives us a leg up on everyone for the platform we can provide, and now we're competitively in the race country-by-country to look at every sports right," said Discovery chief executive David Zaslav. "We're not ruling anything out."

US-headquartered Discovery will increase its stake in Societe Television Francaise 1's Eurosport to 51pc from 20pc, with a possibility to buy the rest of it, the companies said. Eurosport is valued at €902m.

The purchase illustrates the value of sports broadcasting and continues Discovery's push overseas in recent years to fuel growth through new channels and programming. The Silver Spring, Maryland-based company, which owns Animal Planet and TLC, bought its initial stake in Eurosport a year ago.

Irish Independent

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