Apollo, the private equity firm, has threatened to
withdraw from its proposed offer to buy Brit Insurance
without preliminary access to its books. The Lloyds of London
insurer rejected a proposed 10.50 pound bid on Thursday, saying
it 'undervalued the company and, accordingly, would not
represent a basis on which the board is prepared to engage with
Apollo'. Brit's share price soared 30 percent from 720 pence
earlier this month after the approach was announced. They
climbed 12.5 pence to close at 900 pence on Friday.
ITALY DRILLING BAN HITS UK OIL EXPLORER'S SHARE PRICE
Mediterranean Oil and Gas, the exploration and
production company, saw its share price fall 7.5 pence to 21
pence after the group warned it could be hit by new Italian
restrictions on deepwater drilling. Italy's new rules to prevent
drilling close to the coast follow BP's disaster in the
Gulf of Mexico, which has become the worst ever accidental
spill. Stafania Prestigiacomo, the country's environment
minister, banned exploration and production within five miles of
the shore and within 12 miles for protected areas.
GW ALLAYS WORRIES
GW Pharma has played down reports that private care
trusts were not paying for prescriptions for Sativex, a multiple
sclerosis drug that is derived from cannabis. Earlier in the
week it was suggested that PCTs in the south central area would
not prescribe the drug. However, GW said the decision by certain
PCTs was made last year, prior to its regulatory approval. The
company added that 90 percent of PCTs in the UK paid for the
drug on the NHS. Its shares increased eight pence to reach 108
RBS 'PAYS' HSBC TO BUY INDIAN UNIT
The Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed a deal with
HSBC that could see the bank paying its larger rival to
take its Indian operations off its hands. The move underlines
the urgency of the bank's efforts to slash the size of its
international businesses. HSBC is set to buy RBS' commercial and
retail banking operations in India for 63 million pounds.
However, RBS will also cover the majority of any losses made by
the business, meaning it could in effect end up paying HSBC for
CABIN CREW UNION TELLS BA DISPUTE IS 'TRASHING' THE
Airline British Airways has been warned by a trade
union that there will be no 'true peace' between the company and
its striking staff until it withdraws sanctions against striking
cabin crew. Unions have claimed that they will be able to bring
the strike to a close if the airline restores to its staff the
discount on its flights that has been taken away for life from
those who chose to strike. In the letter to chief executive
Willie Walsh, union representatives said that the dispute is
'trashing' the reputation of the airline.
OUTRAGED INVESTORS REVOLT AGAINST TESCO
Supermarket chain Tesco saw the largest shareholder
rebellion in its history on Friday, as 47 percent of its
investors chose not to vote in favour of the company's senior
employee remuneration package. Shareholder anger was largely
provoked by the amount paid to Tim Mason, head of Tesco's US
business Fresh & Easy. Mason received seven million pounds while
F&E lost 165 million pounds last year on sales of 354 million
pounds. Some investors also refused to vote in favour of a
clause in directors' contracts which guarantees them a year's
salary and a bonus, even if they are fired.
FSA INQUIRY INTO LENDING PRACTICES AT READING BANK
The Financial Services Authority has begun a formal
investigation into lending practices at a branch of the Bank of
Scotland in Reading, Berkshire. The investigation is said to
have been prompted by a three-year campaign conducted by local
businesses claiming to have been wronged by the bank. A number
of business customers claimed that a bank executive required
them to pay for the services of a consultant, Quayside Corporate
Services, to qualify for a loan. The executive no longer works
at the bank, and Quayside requested to be struck off at
Companies House in November.
JEWELS OF BRITISH INDUSTRY AT RISK OF FALLING INTO AMERICAN
Analysts at financial services firm Standard & Poor's have
predicted that low economic growth in the UK and the weakness of
sterling against the dollar will make it likely that American
companies will launch takeover bids for UK companies across a
variety of sectors. Companies such as defence manufacturer BAE
Systems and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca are
said to be likely targets of transatlantic bids. This trend has
already been demonstrated by US food firm Kraft's
takeover of UK confectioner Cadbury, as well as engineering firm
Scott Wilson Group's recent announcement that it is to
be bought by US rival URS.
THAT'S COOL - AN AD FOR UNILEVER'S ICE CREAM ON YOUR IPHONE
Consumer products firm Unilever is to double its
spending on digital advertising in an attempt to reach more
people in the younger age bracket. Company executives have
recently met with internet giants such as Facebook and Google in the US to discuss developing a digital strategy.
Unilever will be the first company to use technology firm
Apple's new iAD advertising service on its iPhones and
iPads. The company is developing an interactive advert for the
platform, which has 60 million dollars worth of advertising
spending already committed to it before it has even launched.
CERES SUPER BOILERS HIT WITH FURTHER DELAYS
The green technology company Ceres Power has
admitted that its sophisticated new boilers will not be
available to consumers until the middle of 2012, one year later
than anticipated. The boilers are designed to release excess
electricity back into the national grid, giving householders a
return on their investment. The company cited 'required
engineering design changes' as the reason for the delay. Ceres
shares fell 4 pence to 71.75 pence, compared to their 2004
flotation price of 120 pence.
IHG ADDS 105 MILLION DOLLARS TO COFFERS WITH SALE OF
ATLANTA'S LUXURY HOTEL
InterContinental Hotels Group, owner of the Holiday
Inn, Crowne Plaza and Indigo brands, has sold off Atlanta's
luxury Buckhead Hotel to a property investment firm for 105
million dollars. Since its demerger from Bass in 2003, IHG has
pursued a policy of asset disposal, selling 185 of its hotels to
reduce debts and give better value to investors. This process
has so far generated 5.3 billion dollars.
HOMEBASE STEPS IN WHERE DIY MAN OF TODAY FEARS TO TREAD
The DIY retailer Homebase, owned by Home Retail Group , is to offer bedroom and bathroom fitting services to
customers, in a tacit acknowledgement that the market for DIY is
declining. The company is also considering similar services for
patios, garages and driveways, and is already testing one for
flooring and tiling. The new strategy is at odds with that of
its contemporary B&Q, which is reacting to the dwindling number
of people proficient in DIY by offering classes in its stores.
DIVIDEND DELIGHT FOR TRAVIS PERKINS INVESTORS
Investors rushed to buy shares in the builders' merchant
Travis Perkins after the company announced that it would
resume paying dividends during 2010, boosting its shares by six
percent. Travis Perkins announced that half-year results would
be better than expected, due to a 4.7 percent increase in sales,
and said that it expected to be able to award a five
pence-a-share dividend payout for the first time since February
WPP VENTURES INTO MUSLIM MARKET WITH ISLAMIC BRANDING.
The advertising group WPP has created the first
Islamic branding consultancy in the world. The growing
popularity of Western consumer goods in China and India has
resulted in a demand for information on the specific mindset of
Muslim consumers. Early attempts by Western companies to attract
an exclusively Muslim customer base have not met with a great
deal of success -HSBC's attempt to attract people to
its Sharia-compliant banking division ended in failure.
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