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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 21 November 2018

Business

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Emergency stop

Could the arrest of CEO Carlos Ghosn after claims of misconduct lead to the break-up of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi?

When Monocle sat down with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn just two weeks ago, he spoke with cautious confidence. “I will be engaged in too many tasks between now and 2022,” he said at a hotel bar in Rabat. He’s right - though they probably won’t be the tasks he had in mind. Ghosn was arrested upon arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport this week after an internal investigation at Nissan revealed that the chairman was responsible for “significant acts of misconduct”, including grossly underreporting his salary and misuse of company assets. Ghosn, who is yet to respond to the allegations, has been at the forefront of the alliance since its foundation in 1999. Could a future without him mean an end to the tie-up? That all depends on whether the three companies can come to an agreement on how to handle the latest allegations. In a statement yesterday, Renault said it was committed to keeping Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alive.

Design

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Ive an app for that

The head of design at Apple reveals the often-difficult process of creating the brand’s iconic products.

Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, offered some comfort this week to those baffled by technology. “When we struggle with technology, we assume the issue is actually us,” Sir Jony told the Cambridge Union upon accepting this year’s Stephen Hawking Fellowship. “If you eat something that tastes dreadful, you don’t assume that the issue is with you.” Sir Jony also revealed the complexity of the design process and the challenge of making sure that even the quietest voice in design is heard. “I remain completely enchanted by the creative process. It’s fabulously terrifying and so uncertain.” He added that ideas are fragile and can remain so for years before they eventually become products.

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Double whammy

Australia has concerns over the collective trade investments of China and Hong Kong. Is the EU of the same mind?

Australia’s growing suspicion of mainland Chinese investment could now include Hong Kong. Canberra this week vetoed an €8.3bn takeover bid for one of its largest natural-gas suppliers, APA, by a firm controlled by Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing. The decision to block the sale of APA on the grounds that it would be contrary to the national interest comes only days after Australia and Hong Kong concluded negotiations on a free-trade agreement at the Apec summit in Papua New Guinea. Business leaders in the autonomous territory will be hoping that the EU doesn’t similarly lump Hong Kong and China together. As fear of Beijing’s economic influence spreads, Brussels is working on its first bloc-wide set of rules to screen foreign investment in critical national assets.

Architecture

Image: DBOX Foster + Partners

Rose-tinted spectacles

Foster + Partners’ latest building design for central London may be blooming marvellous but the rest of the city deserves to grow too.

A design for The Tulip, an as-yet-unrealised 305 metre tower (picture a svelte sun-seeking globe artichoke), is the latest architectural spectacle to cast a shadow over the City of London. The Foster + Partners-designed building’s concrete stem would support a 12-storey gallery with restaurants and dwarf the Gherkin, which the firm built in 2001 (and was bought by The Tulip’s backer, the Safra Group, in 2014). Details about the building are thin on the ground but plans include a free educational facility and public viewing gallery as a nod to the notion of “giving something back” – a condition of planning permission. London faces many problems including an uncertain economic future after Brexit and a lack of housing. The kind of city visitors might see from the top of this multi-million-pound fancy (if it’s built) should be a far more pressing concern than if the building ends up breaking ground.

From Monocle Films

Made in Wales

From a lavender farm in the countryside to a denim mill revitalising a harbour town, Wales is using its traditions and craft to benefit new industries. Monocle Films profiles two inspiring Welsh enterprises that are bringing international success home.

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