What The Papers Said

a roundup of sunday business stories
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The Independent Online
n Pilkington, the glassmaker, agreed to an approach from a private equity consortium this year but a recovery in its shares put paid to the deal.

n Allied Domecq chief Philip Bowman is under pressure from fellow directors to accept Punch Taverns' offer for its pub estate. Punch was spending the weekend in talks with Allied's advisers.

n The European Commission is planning a campaign to stamp out government aid to shipping and ferry firms similar to that carried out in the first half of the decade against airlines.

n A long-awaited White Paper will these week say there is to be no sale of shares in the Post Office to private investors without parliamentary approval. The Post Office is to be allowed to invest pounds 75m a year.

n A Southampton jeweller is seeking a High Court injunction to prevent the Bank of England's planned gold auctions. Kim Rose is accusing the Government of incompetence and irresponsibility.

n Whitbread is drawing up plans to sell at least 400 tenanted pubs if its bid for Allied Domecq's pub estate succeeds. It has received offers for its entire tenanted estate which could raise up to pounds 1bn. The OFT is expected to approve Whitbread's bid on condition it sells its brewing interests.

n Wolverhampton and Dudley will this week launch its offer for regional brewer Morland, offering 470p per share compared with 445p on offer from Greene King.

n John and Jamie Ritblat are planning to merge Milner Estates and Delancey Estates, the property companies they respectively chair and manage, in a deal likely to be questioned by the City.

n Centrica and Energis plan to launch a discount telephone service for Centrica's 18 million British Gas customers. The project would use standard local BT lines and Energis's national network of trunk lines.

n Pharmacia & Upjohn pulled out of a deal to buy British Biotech because of the controversy sparked by Andrew Millar, the sacked research director.

n Cable & Wireless has rebuffed informal bid approaches from Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Bell Atlantic and SBC Communications.

n QXL, the on-line auctioneer founded by freelance journalist Tim Jackson, is planning a float valuing it at pounds 750m. It would be the second largest Internet stock after Dixons' Freeserve offshoot.

n Punch is weighing up a pounds 3bn knockout bid for Allied Domecq's pub estate.

n First Choice shareholders plan to block its merger with Kuoni unless they receive further information in the next few days. Rival bidder Airtours has persuaded key investors to think again.

n Shareholders plan to vote against a proposed pounds 1.4m compensation package for Tarmac chief executive Sir Neville Simms on Thursday.

n British Aerospace and its former ally Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace (Dasa) are locked in a transatlantic dogfight to acquire key strategic targets in Italy and America. The two giants, both partners in Airbus, are fighting to take a stake in Alenia, the Italian outfit. If Dasa wins, the German group would have effective control of more than 61 per cent of the Eurofighter/Typhoon programme, leaving BAe with 38 per cent. The two are believed to be stalking Northrop Grumman.

n Punch Taverns is preparing a pounds 3bn knockout blow for Allied Domecq's pub estate as soon as today. Allied's advisers want its directors to switch support from Whitbread to Punch Taverns.

n Lord Simon of Highbury, the trade minister, is to quit his ministerial post to campaign for Britain's early entry into the euro, according to friends.

n The proceeds of this week's pounds 130m gold auction are to be paid into a bank account in America because the gold market international convention is done in dollars.

n British Airways faces a two year delay to its alliance with American Airlines after British Transport Officials called off this week's talks on an aviation agreement with the US amid a row over BA's concessions at Heathrow airport.

n The Engineering Employers' Federation is expected to report that three times as many firms are expecting to cut jobs as not.

n Wal-Mart is planning to open banks inside all of Asda's 228 stores within two years. The move is likely to kill Asda's deal with Lloyds TSB, which rents space in its stores.

n Nomura's Grand Pub company, Britain's biggest landlord, is thought to be mulling a bid for Allied Domecq's pub estate as Punch prepares to up its bid to pounds 2.9bn.

n Mutual insurer Equitable Life could be vulnerable to bids from financial rivals such as Barclays and Natwest, triggering windfalls for its policyholders, depending on the outcome of a court hearing into its commitment to guarantee pension annuity levels.

n The European Commission is threatening to impose a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period at the end of mortgage deals. If the EC is successful, a purchase could collapse up to a month after completion of contracts.

n Top City firms are consulting Caprim, an information consultancy run by former leaders of the right-wing Economic League, raising fears that they want to root out recruits who might sympathise with the protesters who rioted in the City last month. The League drew up blacklists of "subversives" in the early Eighties.

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