BETWEEN MURDOCH AND A VERY HARD PLACE

FINALLY! A chance for harried BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch to let his hair down: the Sky Christmas party – or “Winter Reception” – invites have been issued, the balloons blown up, the goose cooked. And it will be a well-deserved rest. The Capitalist hears that Darroch has had a stressful few weeks in the limbo surrounding News Corporation’s attempt to buy out the rest of the Sky.

News Corp is keen to expand beyond its 39 per cent stake but its attempts have so far been stymied by pesky regulators.

So Darroch faces an unusual quandary: does he try to maximise profits and increase the company’s stock price, thereby aggravating his main shareholder by upping the amount it will have to stump up for the rest of the company? Or does he keep a lid on growth and face the wrath of the other 61 per cent of investors?

Never has just doing one’s best for the firm seemed so complicated.

BARE ESSENTIALS
Every merger brings its trials, from the lawyers’ fees to the “social issues”, but top of the pile is surely what to name the resulting hybrid.

Luckily, the honchos over at Essenta have taken the bull by the horns. Essenta itself is a merged version of Northern Foods and Greencore – so what’s with the brand new branding.

Chief financial officer Simon Herrick was kind enough to satisfy my curiosity: “The name is derived from ‘essential’ and ‘essence’, which are two words that play to the quality of our food,” he said. So what kind of essential food does he mean? Well, Goodfella’s Pizza, Bisto, Aunt Bessie’s… all essential, in their own way.

But there might be another reason: “It’s very difficult to find a name that nobody else has already used, to be frank,” Herrick admitted.

CUNNING AS FOX
ROLL up for the most anticipated Christmas bash of the season. Not a soiree, that is, but a chance for some of the loudest mouths in media to bash one another’s employers in a BBC-hosted panel entitled “The future of news: BBC, Fox or a third way?”

To be chaired by Nick Robinson, the debate is to feature BBC director general Mark Thompson, head of news for Channel 4 Dorothy Byrne, NewsWatch’s Raymond Snoddy and, to keep the discussion on the straight and narrow, former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie.

MacKenzie is known for offering generous doses of his florid prose to all who will listen, so I wondered how the hack fancies his chances against a panel including a woman known for inviting Iranian President Ahmadinejad to deliver Channel 4’s Christmas message.

MacKenzie isn’t too ruffled, it turns out. “Mr Thompson has a large brain,” he said, “but a small public speaking ability. I am the exact reverse.”

The secret of getting applause on Question Time revealed.

VOODOO CASH
Tired of sitting on all that amassed company capital? Luckily, Capital Alternatives has found a more fun way for you to store it than using an exchange-traded fund with a long name. The firm is selling a collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia that includes a cigar actually smoked by the King himself. Or if Presley isn’t your cup of tea, try a visit to Bonhams on 15 December, where one of Jimi Hendrix’s surviving guitars will set you back an estimated £80,000-£120,000. That ought to take care of some of the cash and as for the rest, did someone say Potash Corp?