The Business Week In Review: John Craven, Tchenguiz brothers, Sam Laidlaw, PaulStobart, Dorothy Thompson and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou


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The Independent Online

In profit ...

A none-too-shabby week's work for John Craven, the chief executive at Cove Energy. On Wednesday, the recent spike in deal-making continued, with Shell offering close to £1bn for the east Africa-focused oil group.

The three top executives at Cove are in line for nearly £40m if the deal completes, with Craven holding shares and options worth around £13.5m. But hang on, what's this? By the end of the week Thai state-backed energy company PTT had launched a £1.12bn counterbid, leading to hopes that Shell will improve its offer. £40m now looks like peanuts.

Also on Wednesday, the colourful Tchenguiz brothers landed a blow on the Serious Fraud Office, which arrested them and raided their offices last year in the wake of the collapse of Kaupthing. Robert was Kaupthing's largest shareholder, while Vincent is one of the UK's biggest landlords.

Now, the High Court has ruled that a judicial review can be made into entire conduct of that inquiry, which could see the Tchenguizes claim damages well in excess of £100m.

On Thursday, Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw upset critics of the big six energy suppliers with a 1 per cent rise in profit to £2.4bn. Investors, though, weren't complaining.

... at a loss

Rarely, if ever, has a British credit card insurer so hit the headlines. CPP, which covers 4.5 million customers in the UK, saw its shares suspended first thing on Monday after the Financial Services Authority investigated past sales over possible mis-selling. CPP chief executive Paul Stobart called the FSA’s probe “disproportionate”, warning that it threatened the “viability of the whole business”, but promised to compensate customers who were mis-sold either card or identity protection policies. This came after a huge blow the previous week, when Barclaycard ended its contract with the group.

Burning human excrement and agricultural waste aren’t the most gripping of topics, but Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of the Bond villain sound-a-like Drax Group, had cause to fret over biomass this week. Drax announced that, due to a lack of government subsidy, it had axed plans to build a green power plant to provide renewably-sourced electricity for more than half-a-million homes.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou found out on Thursday that he is losing the easyJet PR war: virtually every other investor backed the board’s pay deal, which he has so vehemently opposed.