May 26, 2013 / 12:07 PM / in 4 years

PRESS DIGEST - Sunday British business - May 26

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday:

The Sunday Times:

FOUNDERS TO GRAB ENRC ON THE CHEAP

Kazakhmys, the largest investor in ENRC, has fallen in behind a 3.3 billion pound ($5 billion) takeover bid for the FTSE 100-listed miner, all but ensuring its success despite protests from independent directors.

VULTURE FUNDS SWOOP ON AILING YELLOW PAGES

Wall Street vulture funds are homing in on a debt-for-equity takeover of Hibu, the struggling owner of Britain’s Yellow Pages, according to the Sunday Times.

MCDONALD‘S IN BID TO SWALLOW LITTLE CHEF

Fast food firms McDonald’s and KFC have tabled bids to take over Britain’s roadside dining chain Little Chef, according to the Sunday Times.

Whitbread’s Costa Coffee is also in the hunt for the group put up for sale by turnaround specialists R Capital last month, according to the newspaper. None of the bidders are expected to keep the Little Chef name.

CENTRICA THREATENS TO DITCH WIND FARM

British Gas owner Centrica has threatened to ditch plans for a 2 billion pound ($3 billion) wind farm off Britain’s east coast unless the government meets its demands for hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidies, the Sunday Times said.

SERCO TILTS AT LEGAL AID BONANZA

British outsourcing firm Serco could bid for government contracts to arrange legal representation for defendants in criminal trials, according to the Sunday Times.

LOSS-MAKING GUARDIAN TO RAISE CASH FROM TECH SALE

Guardian Media Group, the owner of The Guardian newspaper, is sounding out potential buyers for a 20 million pound ($30.28 million) sale of its property software arm, GMG Property Services, according to the Sunday Times.

DIAGEO BOSS CALLS TIME WITH 50 MLN STG

Outgoing Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh will leave the world’s biggest spirits producer with a package that could be worth close to 50 million pounds ($75.69 million), according to the Sunday Times.

CO-OP ON RACK OVER BANK ASSETS

The future of the Co-operative Bank may not be resolved for more than a month as talks about filling a black hole in its finances drag on, according to the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Telegraph:

FUNDS LINE UP 5 BLN STG BID FOR SEVERN TRENT

A consortium led by Canadian investor Borealis Infrastructure is planning a second bid for Severn Trent before the June 11 “put up or shut up” deadline, The Sunday Telegraph said, citing senior figures close to the consortium.

The revised offer for the British water company is likely to be in the region of 20 to 21 pounds, valuing it just shy of 5 billion pounds ($7.57 billion).

NEW CO-OP CHIEF TO TACKLE BANKING ISSUES WITH BOARD

Euan Sutherland, the new chief executive of the Co-Operative Group, is to brief his board on the full extent of the problems at its banking arm for the first time on Friday, after holding “reassuring” talks with the banking regulator.

Sutherland will indicate that a plan to reduce the bank’s capital shortfall will be in place by the end of June, the Sunday Telegraph understands.

FIRSTGROUP CEO OFFERED TO QUIT OVER SURPRISE RIGHTS ISSUE

FirstGroup chief executive Tim O‘Toole offered to resign from the rail and bus company before it announced its controversial 615 million pound ($931 million) rights issue last Monday, according to sources close to the firm.

O‘Toole did not tender his resignation formally but did make it clear that he would be prepared to take responsibility for the rights issue which has led to a 43 percent slide in FirstGroup’s share price since Monday.

ENRC CALLS FOR VALUATION AS IT BRACES FOR SECOND BID

The chairman of ENRC’s independent committee has asked its advisers Lazard and Credit Suisse to individually assess the value of the mining group ahead of an expected second bid from a consortium led by the company’s founders, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

CITI TOWER CHANGES HANDS IN BLN STG DEAL

The Citi Tower, one of the largest buildings in London’s Canary Wharf, has been sold to Middle Eastern investment fund AGC Equity Partners for 1 billion pounds ($1.51 billion), with Ireland’s “bad bank” NAMA receiving around 333 million pounds of the proceeds, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

GOOGLE: UK MUST “FIX” TAX POLICIES IF IT WANTS MORE CASH

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has called on the British government to “fix” its policies if it wants global companies to pay more tax.

CVC PLANS $290 MLN PAYOUT AFTER FLOAT

CVC Capital, the private equity firm that controls Formula One, is planning to pay a dividend of about $290 million after the motorsport company lists its shares on the Singapore stock exchange, according to a source close to the company.

Independent on Sunday:

RYANAIR‘S DREAM TO BE GROUNDED

Ryanair will be told this week by a competition watchdog to sell around half of its 30 percent stake in Ireland’s national flag carrier Aer Lingus, according to the Independent on Sunday.

Sunday Express:

PENSIONS MERGER FOR PUBLIC SECTOR

More than 4 million public sector workers could find their pension funds merged into one 150 billion pound ($227 billion) super-scheme, according to the Sunday Express.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis is to launch a consultation on merging the 89 local authority defined-benefit pension schemes in England and Wales into a handful of schemes or one super sized fund.

Mail on Sunday:

PUBS SET TO SUE COALITION OVER BEER SALES SHAKE-UP

British pub firms have threatened to sue the government in European courts if it presses ahead with plans to reform the industry by forcing companies to loosen their control over tenants, the Mail on Sunday said, citing pub firm Enterprise Inns and another source.

TREASURY STARTS HUNT FOR CHIEF TO SELL UK‘S BANK STAKES

Britain’s chancellor George Osborne has appointed headhunter Spencer Stuart to find a banking expert to handle the sale of taxpayers’ stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds .

BAILED-OUT BANKS ‘FOUGHT REGULATOR OVER CRISIS FUNDS’

Royal Bank of Scotland was ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ by the regulator to sell assets to help strengthen its emergency reserves while Lloyds ‘dragged its feet’, according to sources close to the talks.

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