Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FT ArcelorMittal awards honour boldest business leaders in 2012

LONDON: 20 March 2012: Financial Times editor Lionel Barber and Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive of ArcelorMittal, hosted the fourth annual FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards last night. Paul Deighton, CEO of LOCOG, gave the keynote address at the awards dinner held at the British Museum in London.
The awards recognise companies and individuals who have stood out for their dedication to innovation and change in the interests of commerce. 
The 2012 Boldness in Business Awards winners are:
·         Driver of Change: Amazon
·         Corporate responsibility: Unilever
·         Newcomer: Muddy Waters Research
·         Environment: Helveta
·         Entrepreneurship: Hyflux
·         Emerging Markets: Samsung Electronics
·         Person of the Year: Michael Woodford, former chief executive, Olympus
Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, said: "The companies commended in this year's FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards have shown great courage in their business decisions, making choices that will safeguard and sustain their enterprises in the face of adverse economic conditions. With very high quality entries across the board we are delighted to see significant global representation and variety of industries among the winners."
Speaking at the award ceremony, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive, ArcelorMittal, said: "Taking decisive measures to transform a business or an entire market for the better takes boldness. These awards recognise those businesses and individuals who have succeeded in driving through such admirable change. Amazon developed a whole new concept for information consumption while Unilever has demonstrated sheer vision and commitment in embracing corporate responsibility throughout its business. Each winner in every category is an example to learn from."
The judges for this year's awards were:
·         Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times
·         Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and Chief Executive, ArcelorMittal
·         John Authers, Senior Investment Columnist, Financial Times
·         Dipak Jain, Dean, INSEAD
·         Leo Johnson, Partner, PwC
·         Luke Johnson, Chairman, Risk Capital Partners
·         Anne Méaux, President & Founder, Image Sept
·         Terry Smith, Chief Executive, Tullett Prebon
About the winners
Amazon dominates the ebook market and is becoming increasingly influential in the tablet market. This year, Amazon launched the Kindle Fire, the latest and boldest move in a drive to transform Amazon from a retail company into a technology conglomerate that can challenge the likes of Apple and Google for pre-eminence in the market for digital videos, music and books. This represents a complete reinvention of the company under Jeff Bezos, who made huge early bets on eReaders and the back-end infrastructure of cloud computing.
Under Paul Polman, Unilever launched its Sustainable Living Plan late in 2010. The plan is considered similar in significance to M&S's Plan A. Now the company has been rolling out the plan across its divisions. The company also opted out of quarterly earnings reports in order to focus on building the business.
Research firm Muddy Waters Research has made a business out of carrying out due diligence on Chinese companies listed in North America, and claimed success this year by exposing problems at Sino-Forest, the Chinese forestry group listed in Toronto. Muddy Waters has forced a big downward rerating of Chinese-linked stocks in the US by challenging the accuracy and honesty of their accounts.
Helveta supplies technology that maps timber supply chains, tracking wood from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and other countries to furniture makers across the world. The Oxfordshire company, launched in 2004, uses satellite mapping technology, radio tags and barcodes to track teak and other hardwood in line with laws designed to stop illegal logging. This year, Helveta won a multimillion-dollar contract to provide a national traceability system for Congo Brazzaville – a sign of the international drive against illegal logging and the desire by timber producers to obtain premium prices by proving their timber is legal.
The story of Olivia Lum's journey from her childhood home – an illegally built house with a leaky tin roof in Malaysia – to the modern offices of Hyflux, is both long and inspiring. The company she founded is now a world leader in membrane-based water treatment. Hyflux floated in Singapore in 2001. The number of Hyflux employees has increased from 30 to 2,300 in the past 10 years. Ms Lum won the 2011 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year award – the first woman to do so in its 11 year history.
Samsung Electronics certainly ruffled a few feathers in 2011.The South Korean company is locked in roughly 20 legal disputes in nine countries with its biggest rival and key customer, Apple. In October, it overtook Apple to become the world's largest seller of smartphones as shipments rose 40 per cent in the third quarter. Sales of its smartphones, which use Google's Android software, have quadrupled in the past year, and Samsung is now a serious competitor to the iPhone maker.
Only a few weeks after becoming one of the few Europeans to reach the top of a large Japanese company, Michael Woodford, Former chief executive, Olympus sent shockwaves through the Japanese business world by publicly questioning more than $1bn of payments made by Olympus for a string of takeovers. He was summarily sacked by the board of Olympus. But his claims triggered a massive fall in the company's share price and, in early November, the camera maker admitted it had used acquisition fees to conceal losses on securities investments dating back to the 1990s. By standing up for corporate standards Woodford deserves the greatest of respect.

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