For Rolls-Royce buffs the launch of the new Silver Seraph at the Geneva Motor Show in a few days’ time is an event of great strategic import. After all it is the first new model for 18 years. For defence watchers, however, this is merely a tactical step by Vickers.
For years the City has been suggesting to Vickers that their portfolio, from medical equipment (now gone) to Rolls-Royce Motors to Challenger II to marine propulsion is too broad. Once Vickers gets its cash for Rolls-Royce Motors, probably from BMW, its land defence equipment restructuring plans will then get under way.
Each time I open The Engineer I find we have taken one more global step and know there will be more tomorrow. There is a large and ever continuing flow of engineering business activity flowing in and out of Britain.
Caterpillar is expanding its compact range in Leicestershire; BAe Defence and BAe Airbus are going European; Ford is to build baby Jaguars in Britain for export; Virgin buys a new fleet of trains from joint venture GEC-Alsthom and Fiat; Vickers likely to sell Rolls-Royce Motors to BMW; TI gets out of its undercarriages joint venture with Messier of France; GPS, semiconductor arm of GEC is to be owned by Canadian Mitel.
Last week I read that McDonald’s has coined a new word glocal to help explain the importance of having a balanced global and local dimension in its business. For some reason this comforts me.
Recently I listened to the best informed foreigner in Europe, the editor of the European edition of the Wall Street Journal, an American based in Brussels. He said that Europe is a success and our industry and City will be sidelined if we do not join the euro zone. He said our broadsheet newspapers took too local a view and were too eurosceptic. I resisted the editor’s logic until I recognised the truth. We cannot be globasceptic and expect to survive and prosper. The rest is detail and negotiation.
Are you tired of the emotive rhetoric pumped out by the computer industry about how the world is going to stop when 1999 becomes 0000 instead of 2000? I am. I was going to grumble about the lack of answers in the rhetoric. I was going to ask for your action plans to fill the gap. But there is no need.
Call the CBI on 0171-395 8191. It has just issued a briefing document that describes the actions planned by Sainsbury, Rover, Yorkshire Electricity and the Guardian Royal. Good stuff, CBI.
Brian Small is a non-executive director of several firms and a management consultant.