Business news in brief

Click to follow
The position of rebel investors in Christian Salvesen is looking increasingly isolated ahead of Thursday's shareholder meeting after it emerged that Standard Life has added its voice to that of Scottish Widows in support of management proposals to pay a pounds 100m special dividend. Graham Wood, head of UK investment at the giant Scottish life insurer, last week revealed his hand, saying the two investors leading the crusade - Sir Gerald Elliot, a former chairman, and John Grant, former finance director at Lucas - had failed to convince him of their arguments against management plans to pay the dividend and spin off Salvesen's Aggreko hire division. Mr Wood said on Friday: "Up until now we have been rather inclined towards the existing board and management and that's the way I am still looking at it. The campaign led by Sir Gerald Elliot has raised the game, but at the end of the day ... we still don't think they have won the argument on the special dividend and the demerger." Magnus Grimond

The signing of the BBC's long-awaited deal with Flextech to provide its first fully fledged pay-TV service has been delayed until late this week, as the Corporation's lawyers pore over the contract. The deal will allow the BBC to launch at least eight new channels without having to commit any money to the deal. Instead the BBC will throw open its television library to Flextech, a pay-TV company 51 per cent owned by American cable giant TCI. Under the deal Flextech will put in pounds 20m of capital, backed with a standby credit facility of around pounds 100m. Flextech will get a 50 per cent stake in the venture, which is set to run for 30 years.

London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Portsmouth and Swansea have all failed to create as many jobs as they should, according to a study by the consultancy firm Business Strategies. The five cities have all done poorly over the past decade even allowing for any inherent disadvantages in the existing employment mix, according to Richard Holt, the author. Towns and cities which have done better than expected include Milton Keynes, Aberdeen, Warrington, Swindon, Peterborough, Exeter and Northampton.

Leading UK development organisations are calling on UK companies to report publicly on how they treat workers in underdeveloped countries. Although some companies have signed codes of conduct there is no effective method of checking those codes. The report, prepared by the New Economics Foundation and the Catholic Institute for International Relations, notes that Sainsbury has a pilot scheme to monitor codes of conduct, while Gap, the US clothing company, is a market leader in checking its own code.

A huge west London office development known as the Ark, which dominates the Hammersmith skyline, has been sold for pounds 42m by its Swedish owner to Despa, a German investment fund. The Ark's original developer, Ake Larson, collapsed during the slump in the commercial property market.