What The Papers Said: A round-up of Sunday business stories
Monday 22 March 1999
BSkyB's pounds 623m bid for Manchester United will be waved through by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the next couple of weeks, although a number of stringent conditions will be attached. The satellite company will be excluded when the Premier League resumes negotiations over television rights once BSkyB's exclusive contract runs out in 2001.
Railtrack will this week unveil its most ambitious investment strategy ever with a pounds 2bn package to update Britain's railways. It is seeking to placate Government critics with a raft of improvements to track, stations and services.
Ford Motor Company is believed to have joined the bidding for RAC Motoring Services, the car breakdown business owned by the members of the Royal Automobile Club. Ford has contacted Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, the investment bank advising othe RAC on whether it should float or sell the sevices arm.
Companies are to warn the Treasury that they face extra bills of up to pounds 15m a year as a result of the energy tax announced in the Budget. Business groups fear that the tax will raise more than the Government estimates, and will drive many middle-sized businesses into receivership.
Kenneth Clarke has come out in favour of Bank of England independence, which he steadfastly opposed when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he wants a Monetary Policy Commitee (MPC) which is more in touch with the "real world" and has a wider remit.
Chancellor Gordon Brown intervened at the last minute to block Stephen Byers's offer of pounds 180m to save Rover's Longbridge plant in Birmingham. The Chancellor wanted the DTI to go in with a lower offer of aid to Rover's German owner BMW in order to gain a better negotiating position.
Shares in Quantum, the flaship macro hedge fund run by George Soros, have slumped to a discount following a disastrous start to the year in which the fund has lost 16 per cent after a series of poor calls.
The Government is working on plans which could blow a huge hole in the proposed EU withholding tax on bond income by removing $3bn of Eurobonds from its scope.
The Office of Fair Trading is preparing to refer National Power's pounds 180m planned acquistion of the Midlands Electricity supply operation to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The reference would be the latest in a series of blows to the beleaguered generator, and would renew speculation that National Power will fall prey to a bid.
Mohammed Al-Fayed has put Harrods up for sale for about pounds 1.5bn. Mr Fayed offered to sell the landmark London department store to Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, the French luxury goods group, earlier this month.
Rentokil, headed by the CBI chief Sir Clive Thompson, has been criticised by a judge for "vexatious" conduct over its late payment to a supplier.
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