Rabobank might prove that in banking, you can't even count on a mutual

Not too long ago, when business scandals came with the added emphasis of a struggling UK economy, there were frequent calls for more and more mutually owned businesses.

The employee-owned John Lewis seemed like the only retailer flogging any wares, and this prompted the likes of Nick Clegg to call for a "John Lewis economy". Now, it seems, the benefits have been slightly oversold.

The disaster that is the Co-op Bank is covered elsewhere, so we'll focus on Dutch lender Rabobank, which boasts that "the strong points of our cooperative structure became more patently evident than ever during the financial crises".

That claim might cause the odd eyebrow to arch over the next few days, because the bank is braced for a fine over its alleged role in the manipulation of Libor, the benchmark interest rate. Regulators may announce the punishment as soon as this week, and it could be as much as $1bn.

Still, what is really interesting about Rabobank is that, unlike other institutions involved in the Libor scandal, traders at this cooperative bank were not, as in the City, motivated by a drive for greater and greater profits. What seems more likely is that the culture of manipulating Libor was shared in the industry. In other words, the feeling was mutual.

Familiar faces on Britain's high streets

Another month, another bunch of retailers, politicians and other worthies talking about what is going wrong on the British high street. This week we get yet another evidence session in front of the business, innovation and skills committee, an inquiry that follows Bill Grimsey's recent "an alternative future for the high street"; Mary Portas's 2011 review into the future of our high streets; the Tories' 2008 parliamentary commission into small shops on the high street; and… well, you get the point.

History teaches us that most of these reports end up looking as homogeneous as the UK's town centres (and this page's mutterings on the topic), and as if to prove the point the committee has invited Grimsey himself to give evidence this week.

During his latest turn, the former boss of the former DIY chain Focus will surely resist the temptation to mention how he might have been saved a trip if only the committee had bothered to read (a) his report and (b) his book on the topic (it's called Sold Out, but it still hasn't). He is also sure to be too gallant to have yet another pop at Portas, whom he likes accusing of PR stunts. Who'd have thought it?

Flotation fever as the Twitter roadshow rolls

On Monday you will find them in the mid-Atlantic states. By Tuesday and Wednesday they are prepared to be more specific and will be pitching up in New York. Thursday it's Boston and Friday Chicago.

That might sound like the itinerary for some American road movie, and it will probably prove to be one. But it is also the schedule for Twitter executives this week as they kick off the social networking website's flotation roadshow.

The plan is to travel to all of these venues in order to persuade investors that a company with zero profits is worth a "conservative" $11bn, While that may seem more fanciful than some Hollywood plots, viewers could find themselves getting caught up with these fantastical storylines.

You'll recall that rival Facebook's flotation also started with a supposedly conservative valuation range – only for that to soar as punters worked themselves into a heightened state of arousal. In the end, it turned out more like a disaster movie, as it took the website close to a year for its share price to repass the $38 it floated for.

Still, unlike with Facebook, this time Goldman Sachs has been cast in the starring underwriter role. So in terms of a happy ending, nothing can possibly go wrong.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Simon Goodley, for The Observer on Sunday 27th October 2013 00.06 Europe/London

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image: © Julie Gibbons

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