Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

One of the shocking things I was told very early in my financial journalism career was that people don’t make money running businesses. "They make money buying and selling businesses," said my wealthy business-selling friend, threatening most of the illusions I had acquired at university. Whatever my initial scepticism, over the next few decades I learnt how true it was. While CEOs inevitably pocket inappropriately generous packages for overseeing the running of companies, it is the guys who buy and sell companies that make the really big bucks. They make so much money that deal makers have become somewhat detached from the real world. Putting a deal together has become so important that few care whether the deal should actually be put together. Consider the Steinhoff mess. So far no real jobs have been threatened. The definition of "real jobs" in this context is those at the retail outlets of the dizzying array of chains cobbled together to make up Steinhoff circa December 4 2017. ...

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