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Opinion

From brickbats to clogs

Consider the risks of personal injury if shoe throwing catches on.

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A certain level of apprehension is part and parcel of any official having to chair a public meeting. But fear levels of chief executives and other senior board members at banks will have spiked following the shoe-throwing incident at the general meeting of Belgium Dutch financial services conglomerate Fortis. Innovation never stops in banking, that it is now nouveau pauvre shareholders expressing their dissatisfaction in novel ways somehow seems completely apt.

It might be going too far to suggest the leadership of the world’s investment banks will be shaking in their... boots but consider the risks of personal injury if shoe throwing catches on. No doubt Fortis chairman Jozef De May was fortunate that the protesters did not meet Dutch national stereotypes for he would have been dodging clunky wooden footwear.

Will the managers at Monte dei Paschi di Siena break into a cold sweat at the sight of a stiletto at the next AGM? Have Hypo Real Estate installed shields to repel a volley of Birkenstocks or, heaven forbid, Dr Martens! In addition to the hurtful insults that Daniel Bouton found so wounding, was it the prospect of avoiding a pair of hurled espadrilles that encouraged the Société Générale chairman to resign last month?

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