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Murders and Executions
The economic downturn has, for me (thus far), been characterised by the dramatic effect that various reshuffles of companies have impacted the fortunes of those companies, the staff involved, and indeed the entire economy.

Consider for a second the sad demise of Zavvi, formerly Virgin Megastores. Following a management buyout for £1, the company was spun off and sent out into the wilderness to survive on its own, and it failed horribly. It was bad luck more than anything else that its key supplier went into administration, demanded repayment of a load of credit, and was unable to continue to supply the company in the run-up to Christmas, but nevertheless, it starts to look like a brilliant move on the part of Virgin Group.

After all, if it had hung on to the company, what would have happened when Entertainment UK ground to a halt? Would Virgin Group have subsidised the inevitable losses? That wouldn't be so good.. No, Virgin managed to dodge a huge bullet there and limit their exposure immediately before a painful recession. Whether or not it was deliberate is irrelevant - it still worked out brilliantly.

And on that subject, the very relationship between Woolworths and Entertainment UK is an interesting one. EUK was profitable, and positioned perfectly within the market, stocking some of the major retailers, and yet a failure to restructure the Woolworths monster meant that it almost went under (and in doing so took Zavvi with it). Under normal conditions, who even notices that the company that owns Woolworths happens to be the company that stocks Asda's DVDs?

Then there are the outright failures. The acquisition by RBS of ABN AMRO for what, a hundred billion dollars..? Well let's see, the government bought 70% of the company for say thirty billion dollars, valuing the whole company at around fifty billion, give or take some rounding here and there. Unless ABN AMRO has some sort of magical (but hidden) earnings potential, this doesn't look like it was a good move...

What under any normal circumstances might have ended up being a footnote in a company's history has turned into a huge contributor to its current fortunes, and one of the main drivers behind its near death experience last year.

And our merger? Well I'll save that for some other time, preferably once I have the benefit of a little more hindsight..