Business week in review

In profit …

Stefano Pessina , the executive chairman of Alliance Boots, hit back over criticism of its UK tax payments, as the retail and wholesale pharmaceutical giant posted an uplift in annual profits.

The Italian said it was "much more than a cash cow – we're like a [cash] whale", adding the Switzerland-based company paid £300m in taxes, including £64m in corporation tax, last year.

Investor money flooded into Severn Trent after the water firm, whose chief executive is Tony Wray, said it had received a £5bn-plus takeover approach. Canada's Borealis, Kuwait Investment Authority and the UK's Universities Superannuation Scheme have teamed up to make the bid.

Shares in easyJet, which is led by Carolyn McCall, also took off the following day after the budget airline significantly reduced its half-year loss to just £61m.

... at a loss

Gerald Corbett, the Betfair chairman, came under pressure from investors gambling on a lucrative payday after the betting exchange walked away from a £988m takeover bid. Shares in Betfair tumbled on Tuesday, as Mr Corbett said the 950p a share bid from the private equity firm CVC and its partners Richard Koch and Antony Ball undervalued Betfair.

The chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Philip Hampton, joined him in having an uncomfortable time as he was unable to guarantee at its annual meeting that the bank did not have more "skeletons in the cupboard", such as Libor-fixing. Michael Spencer, the chief executive of the broking giant Icap, was also unsure about the "fragile and unpredictable" trading outlook following a 20 per cent fall in annual profits.

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