The Business Week In Review


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The Independent Online

In profit...

Sir Neville Simms proved that the business nous that earned him that "K" for services to the construction industry could be transferred to the altogether bigger, tougher energy sector.

On Monday, GDF Suez gave in to Sir Nev's hardball tactics over its offer for the one-third of International Power it didn't already own. IP's senior independent director had previously rejected the French giant's 390p a share offer, forcing GDF to raise the bid to 418p. This values the whole of IP at nearly £23bn, which led Investec analyst Angelos Anstasasiou to praise the independent board committee for managing to "squeeze quite a high price out of GDF".

The always gossipy broking sector was chattier than usual on Wednesday, fuelled by the news that Panmure Gordon had poached Phillip Wale from Seymour Pierce as its new chief executive. Panmure can expect to have a Wale of a time – boom, boom – under the new boss, as he has been tasked to go on a spending spree, buying out smaller brokers.

On Thursday, W H Smith chief executive Kate Swann announced a 3 per cent increase in its interim pre-tax profit to £66m. a loss

It was quite an opening 24 hours to the week for dandyish entrepreneur Harold Tillman (right). On Monday, he sold Jaeger to the private equity house Better Capital in a £19.5m deal, a knock-down price due to the heavy debt on the fashion brand's books.

Worse followed on Tuesday, when Tillman's Aquascutum fell into administration, putting around 250 jobs at risk – 115 were gone from its Northamptonshire plant by Thursday. It is thought Tillman had invested around £20m into the business before deciding that his wallet had been suitably lightened.

On Wednesday, Tesco boss Philip Clarke finally confirmed the news that profit from UK sales was down for the first time in two decades. Still, hard to feel too sorry for the grocery giant when that slight fall of 1 per cent still meant Tesco turned a £2.5bn profit in this country and £3.9bn worldwide.

On Thursday, HomeServe boss Richard Harpin saw his group fined £750,000 by regulator Ofcom over issues around one of its call centres.