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GM`s Executive Merry Go Round Keeps Turning, But It Is Making An Early Comeback; Newest Worker Strike Threatens To Shut Down U.K.`S Biggest Airports; Lending in Africa; Oil Making News; Wheat Prices Rise

Aired August 12, 2010 - 14:00:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INT`L. ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: A merry go round, the man driving GM`s turn around is out.

And a headache for travelers, workers of Britain`s biggest airport operator are voting for a strike in the middle of the summer.

And Quest makes breakfast. I`ll investigate how we`re being affected by the rising price of food.

I`m Richard Quest. We have an hour together. I mean business.

Good evening.

Tonight, caution, uncertainty and disappointment. And this, they call a recovery.


Investors are taking a step back on Wall Street at this hour. The Dow Jones industrial having fallen in the previous session. It is now the third straight session of losses. Down 77-three-quarters of a percent, 10,300.

New jobless claims took an unexpected turn for the worst last week. They rose, the highest level since February. Economists have been looking for a fall on that. And a disappointing outlook from Cisco Systems; the power of the Internet is casting a shadow over the tech sector, when the Chief Exec Chambers said the U.S. economy is sending mixed signals to his customers. Cisco`s revenues and sales forecast below expectations. And the shares of Cisco, a whopping 10 percent, or 9.6 percent, in New York.

There was better news from General Motors, which Q2 net profit of 1.3. Best result in six years. Just 10 times that amount in the same period last year. Of course, there was writing off to take place. It is GM`s second straight profitable quarter. And, of course, the issue is whether this will not put it ahead for an IPO, and going to the market to help repay $50 billion bailout from the U.S. taxpayer.

The`s Poppy Harlow is in New York. And Poppy has been talking to the executives from both Cisco and General Motors.

Good afternoon, Poppy. We start with GM. What on earth happened? Why is he off? And when is the IPO happening?

POPPY HARLOW, FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, CNNMONEY.COM: Very interesting. What a day for General Motors. First, starting with the numbers, $1.3 billion in profit; the best quarter we`ve seen for GM in six years. But that is not even really the headline. The headline is the fourth CEO at General Motors in the last 18 months. Ed Whittaker saying he will step down effective September 1. Daniel Ackerson, a member of GM`s board, also the former CEO of Nextel, he will take the reigns. Again, an outsider coming in to lead this auto company into what will be the new GM, when we see and IPO.

But, Richard, when will that IPO be? We thought we would hear today with the earnings. We did not get any word. Just a "no comment" from GM`s CFO Chris Liddell. We did talk to him, though, about the numbers what it means for the company, along with the weakness they are continuing to see in Europe. Here`s part of our conversation.


HARLOW (On camera): How did the numbers in the second quarter hold up to the company`s internal target?

CHRIS LIDDELL, CFO, GENERAL MOTORS: They were ahead of our expectations going into the quarter. So we are continuing to look right at the top end of what we`re looking at. You know, certainly here in North America it was a very good result. In our international operations, and particularly in China, again, it was good result. And Europe, despite the fact that it lost money was much better than where it was in the first quarter. So, we`re seeing that slow gradual improvement in all the geographies.

HARLOW: Speaking of Europe it has been a struggle in Europe. Would you say it is too soon for us to say that all the losses are behind GM. You have a shrinking industry as a whole and you also have continuing losses in Europe?

LIDDELL: Yes, it is definitely too early to declare victory there. We are still losing money. And until we are profitable there certainly I, and the people who are running that division might be happy. What is important is that we`re laying the foundations for break even and profitability there afterwards. So we`re taking a lot of cost out of the system. We are starting to make some improvements in the marketplace. And we`re starting to lessen the loss. So, I guess we`d say we`re satisfied with how much progress we`ve made, but clearly not declaring anything like victory yet.

HARLOW: When will we see GM break even in Europe do you expect?

LIDDELL: Well, our target is to look at around a break even situation next year. Now, that is clearly going to be dependent on what happens to the industry overall, which is a big determinant. But the industry is at least reasonably favorable next year, given all what we are doing this year we have a chance of being break even next year.

HARLOW: When we do see GM go public, A, would you like the government to sell off all its shares as soon as possible? And B, do you think that shedding that "Government Motors" name will really help the company in terms of its bottom line?

LIDDELL: I think how much the government sells is really their decision. I`m, if you like, neutral on that. All I do is look at focusing on making the most possible money that gives everyone the maximum flexibility. So, what our share holding structure looks like in the future is not something I`m spending a lot of time worrying about.


QUEST: The CFO of General Motors.

But, Poppy, if GM gave us a bit of pause for thought today, it was the Cisco results overnight. Because in many ways they go to the core, deep down, of the new economy. And into every business that uses technology, information technology systems. Their results were cause for concern.

HARLOW: A major cause for concern. Look, CISCO is more and more a consumer facing business. This is a huge tech business when it comes to its enterprise customers. Wall Street is beating up Cisco stock, down almost 10 percent. The reason for that, they missed on revenue. They did see sales increase, the CEO John Chambers very optimistic, but what is interesting that he used the words, "unusual uncertainty" in the economy and when you say that Wall Street pulls back.

It really is a sign of the nervousness that is out there in terms of the buying power of consumers and of businesses. He was echoing what we heard from Fed Chief Ben Bernanke not long ago, about that uncertainty. He said despite the uncertainty, Richard, Cisco is investing aggressively. Here is part of what John Chambers told us just a few hours ago.


JOHN CHAMBERS, CEO, CISCO SYSTEMS: Most of our customers are saying business is good. Almost no one I`m talking to is predicting double-dip. It is just a very slow, gradual increase. And so customers are a little bit hesitant about spending on investment or job creation.

Having said that, we hired 2,000 net incremental people last quarter, to Cisco, over 70 percent of them in the U.S. We committed, assuming the economy holds up, reasonably well, to add 3,000 more people over the next two to three quarters.

HARLOW: Where are you making those hires? Where are you planning to make those hires? In what areas around the globe, and what areas of Cisco`s business?

CHAMBERS: In terms of the general rule of thumb we try to hire in proportion to where our business is on a global basis. About 50 percent of our business is in the U.S. and Canada, about 50 percent outside. We actually are hiring a higher percentage in the U.S. at the present time. With almost 70 percent of the hires in the U.S., pretty spread out across the U.S.

HARLOW: What about internationally, where are the strongest markets for you right now? Where might we see more of that hiring?

CHAMBERS: Asia Pacific grew at 20 percent. U.S./Canada grew at 20 percent. The surprise was Europe. It grew in mid 20s and the emerging markets is back, doing extremely well, growing at 35 percent. The only area that was a little bit soft was Japan, a little bit Southern Europe. Although we did better than most of our peers did in Southern Europe.

HARLOW: You have been very candid talking about this quote, "unusual uncertainty" in the broad economy. Echoing the comments we heard not long ago from Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, when it comes to this "unusual uncertainty". How is that affecting how you are managing Cisco`s business? How long do you expect that to persist?

CHAMBERS: We see so many good opportunities in the U.S. and around the world, we`re making a decision to go for it. So we`re investing very aggressively. We are committing to 3,000 people over the next several quarters. While it is not going to be quite as fast as we`d like, we see opportunities to look very good for Cisco, we are way above our projection of growth. And if we grow in our range of 12 to 17 percent the stock will take care of itself over the long run.


HARLOW: Ah, the stock will take care of itself over the long run. Not the case today on Wall Street. That stock, again, down 10 percent on those earnings. But mainly on that forecast and on that uncertainty that Cisco is talking about. I will say, he said that business, Richard, are more willing to spend than consumers right now, Richard.

QUEST: The number I found fascinating there, Poppy, emerging markets growth, 35 percent.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

QUEST: Two great interviews, Poppy Harlow, bringing us the big names from the U.S. markets. Many thanks, indeed. Poppy in New York.

In a moment, workers at BAA, that is the major airports in Britain, they are threatening to close down six of the U.K.`s largest airports. It is a grounds staff who want more money, having a ballot today. We`ll have more of that in a moment.

No, I beg your pardon. We`re going to talk about it now.

They voted for strike action. Ayesha Durgahee is at the company`s largest airport, Heathrow.

My apologies, Ayesha, I was getting rather a head of myself. Which is more than passengers will be doing if this strike goes ahead.

AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, to put it this way, that the union members have got BAA`s full attention, sending out a message that they mean business. And that the pay offers that are currently on the tables, the 1 percent increase, with no bonus, is just not good enough. And the Unite union says that the BAA staff deserves more.

QUEST: Ayesha, the-


BRIAN BOYD, UNITE NATIONAL OFFICER: It is rather difficult now for trade unions, because we are never going to get good pay salary (ph). So we need to make sure that we are being transparent in what we receive. The thing they have done up to now, was well, try to do what we can in terms of what was said today. And hopefully the blokes are probably looking at that. We`ll try to put their (ph) wants (ph) and their frustrations into the press, and so we really need a helping hand on that one.

But what members have shown some determination by determining that 74 percent vote in favor of strike action. We`re hoping that prizes (ph) the company into talking with us again.


DURGAHEE: Well see, Richard, less than half of the 6,000 BAA staff are members of Unite Union, went to the ballot, and 74 percent of them voted to strike. And Unite says that this is enough to close down all of BAA`s six airports, including Hampstead and Heathrow. So they feel that they are in a very good position to go back to the negotiating table and get what they want from BAA.

QUEST: Right, Ayesha, simple question. Gut feeling? Is this strike going to happen, this August, in the middle of the holiday season?

DURGAHEE: Well, at this stage it is a classic case of who is going to stand there grounds and get what they want. So, if the BAA staff don`t get what they want then they do have the option of striking which looks more probable than not.

QUEST: It has been a miserable summer-miserable year. 2010 has been disastrous for the traveling public. BA, we see a 747-400, behind you, of BA, the volcanic ash debacle, earlier this year, and now this, Ayesha?

DURGAHEE: I know you would never think that in a year that potentially you could see the world`s busiest international airports being shut down, first of all because of the volcanic ash, and the threat of a strike that could shut it down, where the airport operator, BAA, along with the airlines, could phase-well, could, uh, well, that could cost them millions of dollars and disrupt the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of passengers.

QUEST: Ayesha Durgahee, go and look at that lovely plane standing behind you. The 747-400 British Airways, she`s a plane spotter like myself. Even she`ll be able to recognize that one.

DURGAHEE: Oh, I can see it.

QUEST: Ayesha, many thanks indeed.

OK, when we come back in a moment, Androids are taking over. It`s not science fiction it is Google`s operating system for mobile phones. It`s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we`ll explain how Android, and the iPhone and the BlackBerry


QUEST: The mobile phone market is booming. That is the word from the research firm Gartner. Global handset shipments jumped 13. 8 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier. No surprise. Smart phones have behind the strong sales. Smart phones, you don`t even have to make handsets to succeed in this market. It is all about, after all, operating systems. Google`s Android OS is steeling now a march on Apple. And the Research in Motion`s BlackBerry, but that is because their OSes, not handsets. And those OSes, go into many manufacturers phones. Confused? Maggie Lake will explain.


MAGGIE LAKE, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At a Midtown Manhattan Verizon store a new version of the best selling Droid is on sale for the first time Thursday. The Motorola Droid 2 hits the shelves.


LAKE: With none of the fanfare of the iPhone or the new BlackBerry Torch. Nevertheless, Android phones from likes of Motorola, HTC and Samsung have become the sleeper smart phone hits of 2010.

At retailer Best Buy where plenty of Androids are in stock, the Android even outsells the iPhone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it is offered on multiple carriers, yes, we are probably selling more Droid phones than Apple phones.

LAKE: New figures from Nielsen showed that some 27 percent of recent smart phone subscribers in the last quarter were using Androids, with the iPhone holding a 23 percent share. The ascent of the Android has taken some customers by surprise.

TEDDY SINGLETON, ANDROID CUSTOMER: At first I thought it was a movie. Until I realized it was a phone.

LAKE: Even long-time tech experts are taken aback.

DAN COSTA, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, PC MAGAZINE: We were making jokes about Android just a year ago. Because there were so few handsets available.

LAKE: Handset maker are eagerly making embracing the Android system now. In the second quarter shipments of Android phones, worldwide, spiked nearly 900 percent. Android sales still trail BlackBerry and Nokia, but long-time iPhone and BlackBerry users, like Robert Domingo, are making the switch. They hail the Androids open platforms that give users more choice and the ability to customize.

ROBERT DOMINGO, ANDROID CUSTOMER: I think iPhone is more for like life, whereas BlackBerry is for work. Droid has access for both. I can do anything with this. It has seven different types of home screens, so I have a home screen for my favorite apps, a home screen for like audio. I can listen to the game. iPhone users are getting kind of jealous, too. All my friends are like, oh, my God. That`s the Droid X. I`m actually jealous of that phone. And I`m like, you should be. Because I can make calls and you can`t.

LAKE: Androids may have momentum on their side now, but as smart phones evolve rapidly, many in the tech world predict cut-throat competition well into the future.

COSTA: I never bet against Apple, because they are continually innovated. And they have really owned the space and pioneered it. The real test will be is when Android is on every major carrier with very sophisticated, high-end devices. I think they are going to be the number 2 competitor and the two of them are going to be neck and neck for quite a while.





LAKE: Forget about that debate between Mac and the PC. The most important battle now may be between the iPhones and the Androids. Maggie Lake, CNN, New York.


QUEST: The BlackBerry row has now spread from the Middle East to India. The country has given RIM until the end of the month to allow the government full access to all of its services. If it doesn`t, it will be shut down, is the threat.

The government is currently negotiating with local telecom providers. Officials want the ability to monitor private messages, claiming security concerns. Without an agreement BlackBerry`s message services could be blocked. There is currently about a million users in India. The country is one of the biggest markets for RIM. It has already faced a ban in Saudi Arabia.

But tonight reports suggest an agreement been reached that would allow Saudis 700,000 users to continue using the service. RIM also faces a ban of some services in the UAE, the United Arab Emirates. That comes in from October.

Now the world of the markets, and we need to check stocks. It has been a rough session on Wall Street. Hard on the heels of Wednesday`s sell off, U.S. shares are down once again. Look at that the Dow is off 0.5 percent. The Nasdaq, though, is really bearing the brunt. Investors rattled by more evidence the economic recovery may be faltering. It is the worst-than-expected U.S. job numbers which took people by surprise. There were two factors here. The job numbers, the claims went up, the plunge in Cisco stock, which we were talking about is adding to Wall Street`s declines.

And to the Euro bourses, across Europe stock markets for fought to recover from the recent sell off. Both the FTSE 100 and the Swiss benchmark, the SMI, made it into the black by the end of session. Markets in Paris and Germany ended the day lower. Weak U.S. job numbers sent the region into the red in the middle of the session. The green giant, InBev rallied in the Belgium market, getting more than 5 percent. Entourage (ph), Budweiser and Beck`s says sunshine and football helped boost sales in the second quarter, which helped beat profit expectations.

So, if you have ever wanted to put me on the spot, our new weekly segment is the perfect opportunity. In just a minute and a bit, Q&A, Quest and Ali, we will have the topics. We will talk about it. There will be a quiz. We`ll see who wins after the break.


QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS and so does Ali Velshi.

Good evening, my good friend, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: And good afternoon to you in London, Richard. Each week on Thursday, Richard and I will be coming to you, around the world, to talk business, travel, innovation, pop culture, nothing is off limits.

QUEST: That`s right. You just go to our blogs at, that`s for mine., that is for his, and give us your topics.

VELSHI: And today for our worldwide debut, we are tackling wheat and it surging price. People know-it must be a good topic, Richard, when a whole bunch of people have been asking me, why are you talking about wheat? Well, Richard, you have 60 seconds to impress the worldwide CNN audience.

QUEST: And that 60 seconds starts now. Here we go.

The big question about wheat, Ali. There are at least 30 types, different types of wheat. The most common, of course, in the U.S. is the Durum, the Common, and the Club. There are some exotic types of wheat. How about the Einkorn, the Emmer, or the Spelt?

But the important thing to really realize about wheat, is that it is a true global market. More than 60 percent of the world uses wheat as part of its staple diet. So, for example, in Russia, one of the world`s largest exporters, the drought, the current wildfires, has lea to a decimation of the crop. The country has banned exports. And that is going to push up prices.

But, I told you, it is a global market. So, in the United States the issue is should farmers grow more wheat to take advantage of this, in the winter months? And then there are countries like Egypt. The world`s largest importer. You have the financial markets.

Oh, no, Ali-


QUEST: When it comes to wheat there is no more than just bread alone.

VELSHI: You didn`t quite make it in the 60 seconds. You named a whole bunch of wheat, but you missed a few different varieties. I have this kind here, the kind that just grows. But you missed to very important varieties of wheat, Richard, cream of, and shredded. This is not just a staple that goes into food.


VELSHI: It is stuff we eat everyday. Now let me just tell you. You ended with Egypt, let me start with Egypt.

The United States has lots of wheat. We grow more than we need here. But there are countries like Egypt, which are net importers of wheat. So they are going around the world right now, while Russian and the Ukraine and Kazakhstan are not exporting wheat. They have banned exports of wheat until December. A lot of these countries that have to import it are going to whoever has got extra wheat. And you know what happens when demand starts to out strip supply. So you haven`t seen it yet, which is why nobody understands why we`re talking about wheat today. But you will see prices increases in wheat.

And by the way, as a basic grain, once you start seeing supply underneath demand. You will start to see people turning to alternative grains. Things like corn. So you could actually see prices for things that have no relation to wheat going up in the next few months. And that is what we`re going to do here, on Q&A, we`re going to tackle things before they become problems, Richard.


QUEST: Ah. Oh, all right. Good try there, Ali. Good try. With your props, for today.

VELSHI: It`s real wheat, Richard. But listen, let`s separate the men from the boys, right now. Let`s find out who really knows more about wheat. Let us introduce the voice for the quiz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, gentlemen.

I sure hope you ate your Wheaties today, because you are going to need it. Let`s start with an easy one for the both of you. What two countries are the top two producers of wheat?

A, India and Russia? B, the U.S. and Russia? C, China and Russia? Or D, China and India?



VELSHI: United States and Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re wrong. Richard?


QUEST: What? That was what I was going to go with. Ah?

VELSHI: Maybe you`re wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re wrong as well, Richard.


QUEST: United States and Canada?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sorry. The both of you need your Wheaties.

VELSHI: China and India?


VELSHI: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now let`s get to a tougher question.

VELSHI: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are thousands of varieties of wheat. But only this many classes. A, four? B, six? C, eight? Or D, sixteen?



VELSHI: All right. I`m going to say four, and I`m going to say why. Because he mentioned Durum. I`ve got this kind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to say, wrong.

VELSHI: Cream of, and shreddies, four kinds of wheat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sorry, not even close Ali, but nice try. Richard, you want to ring in?

QUEST: This-I would say 16, and it is Richard`s humiliation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard, you were so close. I`m sorry. The correct answer is six. And in case you are curious, as I know you are. They are Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Soft Red Winter, Hard White, Soft White, and Durum.

VELSHI: I got the durum. I got the Durum right!


QUEST: Yes, and I got the six! I got the six. We should each get a point for that.


VELSHI: Half a point each, Voice, what do you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disagree. Not a very auspicious beginning for the both of you. Let`s see if you can redeem yourselves with a third and final question please.



VELSHI: Hello, Voice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: contain wheat?

VELSHI: Say that again, we lost you there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I`m sorry. Can you hear me now?

VELSHI: Yes, we got you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Which of the following does not, does not, contain wheat? A, bourbon? B, Yorkshire pudding? C, Tamari soy sauce? D, mayonnaise?



QUEST: I`m going to regret this. Mayonnaise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you will regret it. Because that is wrong.

Ali, would you care to ring in? Go ahead.

VELSHI: Tamari soy sauce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are exactly right.



VELSHI: Point, score, to the match.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While commercial soy sauce does contain wheat, Tamari is brewed without wheat. Ali, you narrowly won this round, one to nothing. But remember, boys, the battle has just begun.

QUEST: All right. That will do it for this week. Remember, we are here each week, Thursdays. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, it is at 1800 GMT, 2000 in Europe.

VELSHI: And in the CNN NEWSROOM, 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Remember to send us your topics. All you have to do is tweet us or go to our blog. See you next week, Richard.

QUEST: See you next week, Ali. Have a good one.

We`ll come back to the subject of wheat later in our program, along with the other commodities which make up your first meal of the day. Quest makes breakfast, join me in the kitchen in a minute.



QUEST: Hello, I`m Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

This is CNN. And here, news will always comes first.

Iraq`s top general says his troops are not prepared to take over from U.S. forces. He says the U.S. troops may need to stay in Iraq until 2020. U.S. officials say Iraqi forces are already ready to handle security. The military plans to withdraw all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

It took him more than two weeks to do it, but Pakistan`s president, Asif Ali Zardari, is now getting a firsthand look at the flood damage. President Zardari has been criticized for being out of the country for most of the disaster. Relief agencies are scrambling to provide aid and prevent outbreaks of disease.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has issued a new round of flood warnings.

Iranian state TV is calling it a confession -- a woman who`s sentenced to death by stoning has said in an interview that she was an unwitting accomplice to her husband`s murder. She also denounced her attorney for publicizing her case. That attorney, though, dismissed the TV program as a government tool, saying his client`s made those comments to, in his words, "save her life."

Columbia`s new president says his country will not be intimidated by terrorism after a car bombing in Bogota. The blast early this morning happened near a radio station on a major avenue. It blew out windows and it scattered glass shards onto the state. Authorities say nine people were killed and no one`s claimed responsibility, but police suspect leftist rebels.

Tonight, Africa`s largest lender says it sees more challenges ahead. Standard Bank Group says it expects to find it tough to get revenue to grow in Q -- in the second half of 2010. For the first half, the bank says profit rose, while debts fell. Standard Bank`s chief says its Liberty Insurance business saw fewer clients abandon their policies and that helps them take the pressure off the banking division.

The chief executive, Jacko Maree, joins me now live from Johannesburg in South Africa.

Mr. Maree, the -- the performance of the banks impressive. And we look at your capital ratios and they`re holding good. But there`s no doubt, as we`ve heard this week from ING and from Danske Bank, it`s tough and likely to get worse.

JACKO MAREE, CEO, STANDARD BANK GROUP: Undoubtedly, Richard. You know, we are experiencing, I suppose, the aftershocks of the global crisis. And the markets in which we operate, you know, are -- are -- are African markets, developing countries. And -- and they certainly have taken a bit of pain following the fluctuations in financial markets, outflows of capital in certain cases and so forth.

So it -- it`s tough. But, you know, we -- we`ve turned in a good profit. And we`ve managed to increase the earnings...

QUEST: What...

MAREE: So I suppose at one level, one`s reasonably happy.

QUEST: The -- you -- you`re focus so much on the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China. That is very much a focus for Standard Bank. Now, we`ve -- we`ve -- we`ve been hearing in every interview that I do, emerging markets are where the action is.

But are emerging markets are where the risks are, too?

MAREE: I think that -- I think that is probably correct. As an in -- as an investor, you`ve had big runs in the stock markets in -- in many of those countries and so forth. But, you know, the business of Standard Bank is -- is very much nuts and bolts kind of business. The cross border business is a bit weedier. You`re trying to link Africa to the BRIC countries, for example. You`re very much around, you know, mining, commodities, power, infrastructure, things of that sort. And -- and -- and, of course, you know -- you know, those flows continue and -- and are reasonably strong.

QUEST: We need to talk about commodities, don`t we?

Just whether -- I mean certainly on this program tonight, as you`ve been hearing, we`re talking a lot about wheat. Now, I suspect in Africa, you may be a little more concerned about the metals, the precious metals and the base metals.

But do you see the run-up in commodities prices as being sustainable on a profitable basis for the bank?

MAREE: Well, there`s -- there`s definitely, you know, pressure emerging on -- on a lot of fronts, I think. But -- but for -- you know, we tend to be either providing hedging services, providing financing for the movement of goods. So for us, we have less concern about the absolute levels of commodities. But we are, you know, obviously, very concerned that the flows to the big markets like China continue, because that`s how we make quite a bit of our money.

So, you know, we would -- we would see things cooling down, I suppose, but, you know, not to levels that would present issues for us, which would be if mines starting closing and things of that sort.

QUEST: Jacko, please come -- when you`re in London, have us -- you have a standing invitation to come and sit on the set and join me and we can really get to grips with these issues without the delays of the satellites.

Many thanks, indeed. Jacko Maree, the chief exec of Standard Bank, joining me live from Johannesburg.

Now, I want you to look at this picture -- "Vogue Italia." An oil- slicked beach -- it`s the controversial backdrop to the latest photo shoot from the magazine. The editor-in-chief is going to tell us why she did it.

And why that`s, some would say, a crude way of dismissing a long- serving member of staff.

We`re going to be talking about that in a moment.


QUEST: Since the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, oil has made headlines throughout the world for all the wrong reasons. Now, the environmental disaster has been taken on by Italian "Vogue" magazine in a fashion spread entitled "Water and Oil."

Come and join me over in the library. Well, more like the art gallery tonight. The photo spread shoot has been shot by the renowned photographer, Meisel and it shows a model in a feathered dress covered in oil, in this particular graphic, one spitting up water while clutching her neck wearing, of course, feathers, as well.

In this photo, the model`s dress and seaweed like hair is coated in thick black gunk. Like a wounded sea bird, she appears almost dead, broken against the rocks. And this one, the model`s face is completely covered in oil.

The shots have struck a cord with many around the world. Some call the shots insulting. Others deem them to be high art. Many suggest they are the height of what fashion and, indeed, news can actually achieve.

But, what about the lady behind the fashion shoot now?

She is Franca Sozzani, "Vogue Italia`s" editor-in-chief.

And Franca joins me now live from Los Angeles.

Franca, you know the criticism -- people are saying it is -- it`s grotesque, bordering on the comic. Some people say it is gratuitous.

You knew that these criticisms would be leveled when you did it, so why did you do it anyway?

FRANCA SOZZANI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VOGUE ITALIA": I -- I -- I never thought that something like that could be -- it could make such a buzz, because for me, I don`t think that today that a fashion magazine can only show you the clothes and the face. A fashion magazine is connected with art and cinema, with everything. And I don`t think it`s crude, what we did. And, you know, it`s so -- and some time, I don`t think it`s high hat (ph). It`s just a position. It`s just a point of view. And when happens what`s happened, I think that even a magazine like "Vogue" can make it visually, because, in a way, we are a visual magazine. We are not a written magazine...

QUEST: Right.

SOZZANI: -- it`s more visual. Visually, we can heed our point of view. And our point of view is that the nature could have a lot of problems if happens so many disasters, as happened (INAUDIBLE) that is growing in Russia or the last five or six years (INAUDIBLE) don`t remember in -- in France.

QUEST: Right.

SOZZANI: So it was more like a messenger for the nature. It was not political. It was nothing to do with the -- the political situation. It was nothing to do...

QUEST: But you`ve...

SOZZANI: -- with anyone...

QUEST: But your critics say -- and, again, you -- you`re familiar, but -- but the -- the nature of these pictures -- and they are pretty -- they`re very strong and they are -- they are certainly shocking at one level. But the nature of doing this now smacks of commercialization rather than concern for -- for -- for nature and well-being.

SOZZANI: But, you know, first, we have to consider that we did it now because it takes time to -- to make a monthly magazine. We cannot do -- we are not a weekly magazine (INAUDIBLE). We cannot be on the news immediately. And I think that when you want to -- to give a message like this one and to make it in a visual way, it`s making a different way, we should make some days ago or, you know, two months ago or now.

But I think it`s very important that the magazine should not be so far away from what`s happening.

I understand that these kind of images that could be shocking for some people. And I know that on the Web site, a lot of people (INAUDIBLE) it`s up.

QUEST: Right.

SOZZANI: I -- I`m -- honestly, I`m right in the middle of both the positions, because I think that when we did the entire issue two years ago about bread girls (ph), everybody thought that I did it because of Barack Obama. And without thinking...

QUEST: Right.

SOZZANI: -- that the issue was out in July...

QUEST: Right.

SOZZANI: And we started to think about it in January. And we didn`t know anything that Barack Obama would be the winner or not (INAUDIBLE).

QUEST: Fran -- Franca, we need to leave it there.

Many thanks.

And whatever people think about the pictures, they are certainly exquisitely executed by model, photographer and printing alike, whatever we -- whatever one may think on things. So from that point of view, congratulations.

Many thanks for joining us.

SOZZANI: Thank you.

QUEST: The big talking point around the water cooler in the U.K., everyone has an opinion about Fabio Capello and David Beckham today. The England manager basically ended the international career of the former captain without telling him personally. Capello was asked if Beckham, who`s 35, was in his plans for Euro 2012 qualifiers. He replied the football icon -- the national treasure of Britain -- is a bit too old.


FABIO CAPELLO, ENGLAND MANAGER: Well, Beckham was in the -- in this really important for the national team. But I choose new players, young players, because the future is in the young.


QUEST: Now, Beckham`s spokesman said David will always be available for his country, which I`m not sure whether that`s sticking two fingers up at Mr. Capello. Capello did nothing for his image with his action toward Beckham.

How do you go about giving someone the sack with class and compassion?

We always know that Jacqueline Whitmore has both class and compassion. The international etiquette expert who joins us from Palm Beach in Florida.

And we are grateful for that.

Look, we -- we`re out -- time is tight tonight.

Jacqueline, first of all, was it crass of Capello to do what he did in the way that he did it?


Yes, it was very crass, to put it mildly. I think there are many, many ways of letting someone go, particularly if they`re the greatest soccer icon on the face of the earth. And the way that Fabio Capello handled this was completely and utterly inappropriate.

QUEST: So, all right, what should he have done?

I mean, let`s not have any hypocrisy about this. He wants younger people on the team.

You know, what do you do, invite them around for a cup of tea?

I mean if you`re the boss, my boss, anybody`s boss, you want him out.

WHITMORE: Well, first of all, I would suggest a face-to-face meeting. But in this case, it seems that David Beckham was out -- out of town or, according to the news reports. So at the very least, at the very least, Capello should have had a phone conversation with him.

QUEST: Right.

WHITMORE: I mean let`s face it, this has probably been stewing in Capello`s mind for a long, long time. They probably had to look over debt -- David Beckham`s contract. They had to run it through the lawyers. So this what -- didn`t happen overnight.

QUEST: Right.

WHITMORE: And, you know, he had plenty of time.

QUEST: OK, now, we`re out of time, but the final question, so, you`re David Beckham or you`re an employee who, frankly, has just been dumped on from a great height and publicly humiliated in such a fashion.

What do you do?

Do you go for righteous anger or do you do the I want to be alone or do you just head off into the distance quietly?

WHITMORE: Well, you don`t burn any bridges, because you never ever know where the next step of your career will take you. But in David Beckham`s case, I don`t think he`s going to have a problem. I mean he`ll have endorsements, he`ll have modeling. He`s got a great family. So I think he`s got a lot of support. We don`t have to worry about him.

QUEST: And you and I, hopefully, when you`re next in London or I`m in Palm Beach, we will get together for a proper etiquette lesson face-to- face.

Many thanks, indeed for joining us.

WHITMORE: Thank you.

QUEST: It`s time for the most important meal of the day coming up in a moment. Quest makes breakfast -- our discovery of rising food prices are enough to put you off your boiled eggs and soldiers (ph). Get the eggs all around.


QUEST: Wheat prices are back on the rise this Thursday, after a five session reprieve, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said global production will drop to a three year low. The cost of that could soon make its way onto our shopping bills around the world.

Now, W.C. Fields once said: "I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast."

For me, it`s coffee. And like wheat, it`s a staple commodity at the breakfast plate. I prepared a special breakfast for two commodity experts because, clearly, volatile world prices will affect us all in the morning.


QUEST (voice-over): Rise and shine -- it`s time for breakfast -- the most important meal of the day, and I don`t mean because you`re hungry. Economically, it`s a feast. And joining me for my morning meal are two commodity experts who know which side their bread is buttered.

(on camera): Gentlemen, your breakfast.

(voice-over): The staple of all good breakfast is wheat, which goes into our breads, cereals and pancakes. But a drought and wildfires in Russia, a major exporter, has led to a rise of more than 50 percent in wheat prices.

LUKE CHANDLER, RABOBANK INTERNATIONAL: The market`s been going crazy for the last month or so. Four to five weeks, we`ve seen one of the biggest rallies since the mid-1970s. The drought in Russia has obviously been the catalyst for -- for such a sharp spark in price.

QUEST (on camera): Is it justified, the price we are seeing, or is there a speculative element into all of this?

MIKE OVERLANDER, CEO, SUCDEN FINANCIAL: There`s always a speculative element in the marketplace. And the prices are determined by what people are prepared to pay for them.

CHANDLER: The current spot price in the wheat is over done at -- at current levels. The rally is being driven by panic and by hedge funds making mon -- making prices overvalued. Given the -- the increasing demand from ethanol, the increasing buildup in -- in livestock numbers in the U.S., I think we start to see a longer-term rally in the grains prices over the next couple of years.

QUEST: Man does not live by bread alone. To get the day really moving, we need some java.

(on camera): Can I pour you some coffee?

(voice-over): Prices are starting to leave a bitter after taste.

(on camera): We`ve seen that some parts of the world, like Columbia, are having their difficulties in their crop. We know that Brazil, of course, is the major producer.

So what happens with coffee?

OVERLANDER: Well, coffee prices are pretty high at the moment. And they are certainly reflecting, you know, the short-term demands that are being put on -- put about, as you were talking about, the Colombian and other countries that are trying to uproot some of their older crop and replacing it.

However, you know, you should also remember that coffee prices today are a mere fraction of what they were 10, 15 years ago.

QUEST: But are you expecting coffee prices to go up?

CHANDLER: I think over the longer-term, yes. I mean markets like coffee and cocoa, where production is so concentrated in a number of -- well, it`s so concentrated in the areas where it`s produced are likely to see increasing pressure over time.

QUEST (voice-over): Corn flakes, coffee and croissants -- now we only need to add sugar into the mix to stir things further.

CHANDLER: We saw sugar rallying last year to -- to 30 year highs. Again, back to a weather event, with India having one of the worst monsoons in 40 odd years.

OVERLANDER: The -- the whole thing about sugar is that it is grown in so many different countries and so many of those countries are currently being affected by weather conditions. Some of them are going to be adviser and some of them are going to be favorable.

QUEST: Hot, cold, wet or dry, the weather goes hand in hand with the food on your breakfast table and prices at the moment are like that morning sun -- rising.


QUEST: And, of course, breakfast, I -- I happen to think is the best meal of the day.

We need to check, though, with the weather forecast in Russia, bearing in mind the -- what we`ve known so far, those dangerous heats that were in Russia, the mud slides in China.

Guillermo Adruino is at the CNN World Weather Center.

And where would you like to begin?

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In Russia, and, you know, you were talking about the price of wheat. And it is -- it has been the 30th - - 30th day in a row with temperatures above 30 degrees. It sounds like a crazy story. It is a crazy story. Look at the temp right now, Moscow 24 only. So, it`s the middle of the night. And tomorrow, we`re going to see again those temps going up like crazy, perhaps by Tuesday we may see a little bit of rain in the area.

It has cooled down a little bit. But the carbon monoxide continues to be at very, very dangerous levels, especially -- not only Moscow, all across that area.

You see the pattern, Richard, is still the same -- the high pressure, even though it`s slightly cooler here. The jet is moving nowhere. The heat continues to affect these areas.

Now, when we go to the other side, we see the rain. We have a couple of low pressure centers in here. And these are bringing the strong winds and the rain. So I would say that Britain and also these northern sections -- you see that low very clearly here on the satellite picture. These areas are cooler because of the jet. Those continue to be quite warm, in the east.

So you see another look at the situation for the next two days. Scotland improving a little bit, though. Temps max, London, 20; 36 in Kiev there in Ukraine.

So you mentioned, also, the rain in -- in China. I`ll tell you about the rain here in Central and North America, because in Mexico, too, we see some action here. This is a tropical system that is developing that into Costa Rica we are going to see a little rain today. In the meantime, if you`re watching from the Caribbean on a cruise right now, it`s totally fine. Enjoy it.

Back to you -- Richard.

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed, Guillermo.

If you`re on the cruise, why didn`t you invite me along for the ride?

I will be back with a Profitable Moment on the Beckham situation in a moment.


QUEST: Tonight`s Profitable Moment.

Was it wrong of the England manager to basically shove David Beckham into international retirement without telling him first?

Of course it was. Everything we`re ever told about management says you must consult and be considerate. For Beckham to learn from the media that his England boss had pushed him out the door, for being too old, at that, disrespectful. And certainly in the corporate world, would have been frowned upon.

Mr. Beckham earns a fortune and yet he`s a grown man and probably knows his international playing days were over.

But ask yourself this, what sort of message does it send when this sort of event happens?

A very bad one. One can only wonder which school of management Mr. Capello learned his skills at handling employees at.

And that`s QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

I`m Richard Quest in London.

Whatever you`re up to in the hours ahead, I do hope it`s profitable.

I still don`t think there`s wheat in mayonnaise. But never mind.

"WORLD ONE" is up now.