What The Papers Said: A round-up of Sunday business stories - Business - News - The Independent

What The Papers Said: A round-up of Sunday business stories

Diageo, the world's biggest drinks company, is set to sell Cinzano as part of a clear-out of underperforming European brands. The clear-out, which also includes the sale of Greek, German and Italian brandies, is expected to raise pounds 110m. The drinks company this month raised pounds 218m from the sale of 14 North American brands.

Mirror Group has written to shareholders to seek approval for the sale of its 19 per cent stake in Scottish Media Group for pounds 110m. The approval is necessary under Takeover Panel rules because of the group's status as a takeover target. Trinity, one of the companies bidding for the Mirror, has complained to the Panel about the proposed sale.

Britain will this week offer BMW pounds 150m to build a new generation of Rovers at Longbridge, clinching the plant's long-term survival. The final package will amount to pounds 200m, including local authority grants. Senior BMW executives, who have said they will invest pounds 1.5bn if they decide to build the new models in the UK, will weigh the offer against a subsidy package offered by the Hungarian government.

n The Government is set to collect a pounds 1.6bn windfall because of a 12- month gap between the abolition of the married couple's allowance and the introduction of the new children's tax credit. Economists and accountants criticised the Treasury for implying in last week's Budget that the tax credit would replace the allowance immediately.

The Office of Fair Trading may ask News International to give an undertaking not to cut the price of The Times, the paper said. John Bridgeman, the director general of Fair Trading, has been advised a referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission will be on safer legal ground if NI has turned down the request.

Co-Operative Retail Services is close to agreeing a deal to sell 41 department stores to Helical Bar, the property company, for pounds 75m. Helical is thought to be the front-runner among 12 bidders for the stores, known on the high street as Living.

Warren Buffet, the investment guru known as the Sage of Omaha, has beaten the S&P 500 index for the 18th year running. But he also owned up to a losing year on the world's markets. Mr Buffet's investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, made a 43 per cent gain, partly by issuing stock in subsidiaries when the market was willing to pay more than the assets were worth.

European interest rates are set to be cut from 3 per cent to 2.75 per cent in the wake of the resignation last week of Oscar Lafontaine, Germany's finance minister. However, the cut will be put off until the meeting of the European Central Bank's governing council on 8 April.

The Government is set to offer BMW pounds 200m towards the pounds 1.5bn-plus cost of transforming Rover's Longbridge factory and creating a new family of medium-sized cars.

n Dresdner Bank is looking for a way to step into the takeover battle in French banking. Dresdner is considering a bid for Bank Nationale de Paris, which last week launched a hostile bid for both Societe Generale and Paribas.

A pounds 1bn bid battle for Manchester United plc could be sparked by new forecasts on the future of pay-per-view TV. A report commissioned by Premiership clubs is to suggest that pay-per-view revenues should add between pounds 50m and pounds 100m to Manchester United's annual profits.

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