Popcorn stocks sell out once more as Boris Johnson goes noisily

Planet Business: Pyrex company bankruptcy, the swift ascent of Mistral AI and the world’s highest-paid golfers

Image of the week: Popcorn politics

Eight months on from the classic Waterford Whispers headline “Ireland Completely Sells Out of Popcorn”, published by the satirical website in the wake of Liz Truss’s resignation as UK prime minister, popcorn remains the snack of the day in Westminster, with Private Eye opting for a string of “ha ha has” on the cover of its Boris Johnson resignation special.

Current prime minister Rishi Sunak continues to be haunted by the ghost of ex-ex prime minister Johnson, who last week quit as an MP in a preemptive huff, with allies Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams also stepping down. This leaves Sunak facing an imminent hat-trick of tough-to-win by-elections (though Dorries, at the time of writing, had not yet made her resignation official).

While the to-and-fro has revolved around Sunak’s handling of Johnson’s list of nominees for honours, the former PM’s sulky defiance over the parliamentary investigation into the Partygate scandal has reignited public anger over his cavalier attitude to the rules while others either heeded them, despite the personal sacrifice this entailed, or were fined life-changing sums for breaches no worse than his.

As for Truss, well, she will soon be jetting in from the political wilderness to Dublin, with the 44-day PM scheduled to be interviewed at the European Broadcasting Union’s News Xchange conference on Monday by RTÉ’s David McCullagh. Time to restock the popcorn aisles.


In numbers: Pyrex problems

$1 billion

Liabilities at Instant Brands, the maker of Pyrex glassware and Instant Pot multicookers, could be as much as this (€923 million). The company has filed for bankruptcy in the US following a post-pandemic cooling of sales.


Drop in first-quarter net sales at Instant Brands, ratings agency S&P Global noted last week as it downgraded its rating on the company. Its troubles follow those at another well-known kitchen products brand, Tupperware.


Instant Brands agreed to pay a fine of almost this much to settle US Federal Trade Commission claims it falsely advertised Pyrex glass measuring cups as “made in USA” despite importing some of them from China.

Getting to know: Mistral AI

A visit to the minimalist Mistral.AI website, as of earlier this week, won’t tell you very much about the latest beneficiary of artificial intelligence (AI) hype.

“We’re assembling a world-class team to develop the best generative AI models. We’re operating from Europe, with our main office in Paris,” it simply states, before asking people with a “strong background as a researcher, software engineer or product developer in AI” to email them.

It doesn’t take any intelligence at all to guess that their email inbox was this week flooded with people suddenly keen to work with its founders, who are Arthur Mensch (formerly of Google’s DeepMind), Timothee Lacroix and Guillaume Lample (both ex-Meta). That’s because they’ve raised €105 million in Europe’s largest ever round of seed funding after setting up Mistral AI just a month ago with plans to launch France’s answer to ChatGPT.

The investment – led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with other backers including former Google boss Eric Schmidt and French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel – values the company at €240 million. That’s notwithstanding the fact that Mistral has yet to develop a single product and its first employees just started work a few days ago. Mon Dieu!

The list: Highest-paid golfers

The arrival of the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV golf tour has “supercharged” the earnings of the golfers who defected to it ahead of its surprise recent merger with the PGA Tour, according to a new rundown of the world’s highest-paid golfers by wealth magazine Forbes. So who topped the list?

5. Cameron Smith: Australia’s top golfer was among those who receive lucrative guaranteed earnings as a result of joining the LIV tour, bringing his tally to $76 million for the last 12 months, dating back to last year’s US Open. This meant Tiger Woods was edged into sixth place in the money rankings.

4. Brooks Koepka: Koepka became the first LIV defector to win a major in May when he won the PGA Championship, his fifth major title. His earnings over the past year are estimated to have reached $77 million.

3. Rory McIlroy: Despite paying a price of many millions for having principles, PGA defender McIlroy still earned $80 million, by Forbes’s calculation, with this sum equally split between his on-course and off-course earnings.

2. Phil Mickelson: He’s not exactly loved by sponsors, but Mickelson is reported to have secured a $200 million guarantee from LIV, half of which Forbes estimates he received upfront, bringing his earnings to $107 million.

1. Dustin Johnson: Sponsors disappeared when he became the first major star to join LIV, but Johnson raked it in thanks to the Saudis, taking home an estimated $111 million. This meant he overtook Mickelson to become the world’s highest-paid golfer – for this year, at least.