Down the Procurement Pub with ICPS, BravoSolution, John Manzoni, the FTSE decline and the Bots

I was speaking at the BravoCymru Conference in Cardiff yesterday, with close to 100 people from the Welsh public and private sectors delegates in a room with great views over Cardiff Bay. And I got to see where the Torchwood HQ was based! Well, where the entrance to their underground lair was in the TV programme anyway.

It was also a pleasure to meet finally Professor Dermot Cahill and his colleague Gary Clifford from the Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies at Bangor University in Wales. The ICPS Procurement Week is a highlight of the public procurement calendar these days, so put week commencing March 16th 2015 in your diary now and we will definitely have more of that event to come.

Here are the ladies from Bravo, Dermot, Gary and I having dinner at an excellent Portuguese restaurant, Madeira, in Cardiff this week. An amazing list of Portuguese wines too – hundreds of them!

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It’s been a disastrous time for share prices. Stock markets around the world have fallen, with the London market down around 10% in the last month. That’s affected some of the shares of companies in our market – Tungsten, owners of e-Invoicing leaders OB10, is down 20% over the two weeks, and cloudbuy is down 15% in the same period, despite a whole string of "good news" announcements from them, including the tie up with Apsiz we talked about the other day. And there are even questions being asked of SAP – shareholders and commentators questioning whether they are over-paying for Concur, particularly if the economy is heading for a major downturn.

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We wrote about the appointment of John Manzoni here, and the new CEO of government has walked into a storm over his other activities. What has upset many politicians and others is that he is being allowed to retain his role as a non-executive director of drinks firm SABMiller. That's worth a cool £100,000 a year. But won't it conflict with his job? No, of course not. I mean, it's not as if being CEO of government is a real job (as we've commented before) so frankly a few days a month out on drinks business is neither here nor there. It's not going to do anything for his credibility with permanent secretaries I suspect, although they might want to pick his brains on how they can get these lucrative second jobs themselves. (And how could anyone now say "no" to a perm sec who wants to do that, given Manzoni's precedent)?

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Another new band to get excited about today. The Bots are two very cool brothers, just 20 and 17, from California who play a punky bluesy indie-rock that is a bit White Stripes-like, not quite as heavy as Royal Blood maybe, just a little quirky in a nice way. Here is “5:17” from their debut album, Pink Palms. Note their track doesn’t start till you’re 30 seconds into the video!


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