Tricky affair, running ITV. If perceived as spending too much on investing in the future, management is savaged for being careless with shareholder money.
But if seen as spending too little, parsimony is contrasted with European rivals and the extravagance of streaming disrupters Amazon and Netflix.
Carolyn McCall has sought to carve out a compromise with the pledge to lift investment by £60million over the next three years.
But in a world where disrupters are spending in the billions, Continental rivals are showing real ambition and the BBC is supported by £3billion of licence payers’ cash, it might have been time for boldness.
Catch up: ITV boss Carolyn McCall has sought to carve out a compromise with the pledge to lift investment by £60m over the next three years
After all, as EasyJet chief executive, McCall confidently rode out the slings and arrows from her biggest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, when she embarked on a fleet expansion which paid off handsomely.
As chief executive of Sky, James Murdoch received no thanks from minority investors when he embarked on a huge investment in newer technologies.
Now the satellite broadcaster has a reputation for digital genius and operates a tech lab in Leeds manned by 650 young innovators.
The technical know-how is one of the factors which has made Sky so attractive to Brian Roberts of Comcast. His bid of £25billion for Sky is the highest on the table.
McCall has a clear idea of what she wants ITV to do better. As the UK’s leading terrestrial broadcaster she wishes to embrace the newest of technologies.
ITV wants to embrace big data and use it to support a direct to consumer operation, entice young viewers who prefer streaming, and expand the global production capacity. In the last six months income from ITV Studios climbed 16 per cent to £803million.
As might have been expected in a World Cup year when England survived longer than expected, advertising revenues were buoyant in the first half.
Defying the consensus of short-term thinking among fund managers is always a big risk especially for a minnow in a world of global behemoths.
But fortune favours the bold. If ever there was a chance for ITV to make better use of its income stream from being the dominant player in UK consumer advertising it should be now.
GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Emma Walmsley has to be taken at face value when she says the pharma champion is not for doing the splits.
It would be surprising if Walmsley were to dispose of the consumer healthcare enterprise which she fashioned. She demonstrated her belief in March when GSK bought out the minority interest in the Novartis healthcare division for £10billion.
Knowing the enthusiasm for shareholders to release value speedily and the case for the divestment made by investment guru Neil Woodford (when he was a holder) it is hard to imagine that the idea is dead.
The same denial was heard from Prudential before it released value from fast-growing Asian and US arms and separated its sleepy UK investment and life enterprises.
If GSK were eventually to break up it would follow in the footsteps of American rival Pfizer and Switzerland’s Novartis.
There is natural logic for GSK with its heavy investment in R&D and gee-whizz new chief scientific officer Hal Barron to focus on pharma and vaccines. Walmsley describes Barron as the most important (and certainly the most costly) appointment of her career – so no pressure then.
Barron’s special skill is to blend Silicon Valley digitalisation with older R&D talents and he will be doing it from San Francisco. Not an ideal arrangement, but better than running the Royal Mail from Zurich.
GSK looks to be on a run of good fortune. The extension of the patent on asthma compound Advair continues to boost earnings and shingles treatment Shingrix is on its way to blockbuster status.
Growth may be hesitant but the pipeline is healthy and moving in the right direction.
Heirs to the Agnelli fortune have much to thank the late Sergio Marchionne for.
He rescued Fiat, crystallised the value of Ferrari and brought Chrysler, and particularly the Jeep, back from death row, and made the Agnellis even richer.
The value of family holdings climbed from £1.4billion to £15billion under his stewardship. Not quite Silicon Valley riches but not bad for a sunset industry with vast over-capacity.