Parliamentary committees are shown live online these days. So, if they wish, Lord Stevenson, Andy Hornby and other former top HBOS people could enjoy some uncomfortable viewing when the Treasury committee meets on Monday and Tuesday. MPs are examining a report on HBOS’s near collapse, which was published last month and blamed its former bosses.
First to appear will be Andrew Green, the QC who wrote a separate report criticising regulators’ decision not to punish any HBOS executives apart from former corporate banking chief Peter Cummings. Green said there were grounds to investigate others, including former chief executive Hornby and his chairman Green, and that it was in the public interest for new investigations to be considered.
The next day, Andrew Bailey, the Bank of England’s top regulator, and Sir Brian Pomeroy, who oversaw the report for the Financial Conduct Authority, will be asked whether they will act on Green’s recommendations.
Andrew Tyrie, the committee’s chairman, won’t let the report drift after forcing independent oversight to make sure the regulators didn’t let themselves off. KPMG, HBOS’s auditor, will also be in the firing line because Tyrie is convinced it has a case to answer for approving the bank’s books as it headed for oblivion.
Dixons Carphone hopes for pre-Christmas cheer
If a high street retailer publishes its results a fortnight before Christmas, people inevitably give the figures a cursory glance before muttering, “whatever”, and turning to current trading. Such is the fate of Dixons Carphone, which issues results for the six months to the end of October on Wednesday. Many had their doubts about the wisdom of merging Dixons, which owns Currys and PC World, with Carphone Warehouse, arguing that both businesses looked outdated.
Seb James, the company’s boss, reckons the combination is right for the arrival of the “internet of things” – household appliances and gadgets controlled by online devices. There’s not much sign yet of what he says will be an “asteroid strike” on unprepared retailers, but Dixons Carphone seems to be ticking along. Analysts expect profits to rise 15% to £438m in the year to April. There will be plenty of questions about Black Friday, which James said last year had overtaken Boxing Day as the busiest of the year for electricals retailers. Since then, many store groups have expressed doubts about the wisdom of offering shoppers the chance to buy goods at heavy discounts before Christmas. However, unless things went very awry, James is unlikely to pour cold water on the big discount event.