In corporate life, big is no longer a guarantee of beauty. Conglomerates, companies that straddle multiple industries, are having a hard time as investors put their money on more focused assets.

Last week The Sunday Times exclusively revealed the latest story in this growing trend. On Monday Cendant, the $20 billion (£11.3 billion) leisure group behind Avis and Budget rental cars, Ramada hotels and the Orbitz travel website, announced a four-way split to revive a flagging share price.

Stock prices for many big companies, including General Electric (GE) and Citigroup, have languished in recent years as investors have moved their money to more specialised firms.

Once a badge of honour, “conglomerate” has become a dirty word. GE in particular loathes the c-word. But its businesses range from light bulbs and aircraft leasing to TV networks, so investors have tarred it with the conglomerate brush.

Henry Silverman, chief executive of Cendant, said: “I’ve had a lot of e-mails from management consultants this week, most of whom I’ve never heard of, saying we made the right decision. Size does matter but, in this case, smaller is better.”

Get the full story at Times Online