What The Sunday Business Papers Said

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Independent on Sunday

Royal Bank of Scotland is putting together a pounds 25bn offer for NatWest to sink Bank of Scotland's plan to acquire the UK's fourth largest bank.

Pension firms could face further multi-million pound claims over policies dating back as far as the 1950s following a landmark ruling in Equitable Life's favour in the High Court this month.

Asda will today set off a new round of fierce price cutting, targeting the health and beauty market in a direct confrontation with Boots.

BAA, the country's biggest airports operator, has put out a call for investors to take a stake in its airport hotels. n

Sunday Times

NatWest has recruited Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank, to help it find a white knight counter-bidder to beat off Friday's pounds 22bn hostile bid from Bank of Scotland.

RWE, the German utilities company, wants to buy Severn Trent, one of the largest British water companies.

Marks and Spencer's search for a new chairman appears deadlocked.

Charter, the engineering group, is the target of a pounds 400m-plus management buy-in bid that could be one of the biggest aggressive MBIs in recent years.

Sunday Telegraph

GlaxoWellcome, the UK's biggest pharmaceutical group, is close to announcing a drastic restructuring of its worldwide manufacturing operations with the loss of up to 4,000 jobs and cost savings of pounds 150m a year.

Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland were preparing a joint bid to carve up NatWest until a week ago but talks broke down and since then there has been a race between them to make the first solo offer.

Candover, the venture capital firm, has won the battle to buy London's leading exhibition halls, Earls Court and Olympia, from P&O in a bid worth up to pounds 200m.

Freeserve, the Internet group that saw its shares slump last week, is set to launch its own online auction service in a bid to attract more subscribers.


RWE, the German utilities giant, is eyeing up United Utilities, the British power and water company, to provide a gateway to the UK energy market.

Abbey National is considering a pounds 36bn counter-bid for NatWest following Bank of Scotland's offer on Friday.

British Midland is set to join Air France and Delta Air Lines and could sell a pounds 200m stake to its new partners to seal the deal.

Sunday Business

Prudential, the UK's biggest life assurer, is thought to have appointed Goldman Sachs to advise it on the flotation of Egg, its direct banking unit.

Royal Bank of Scotland says it can secure more cost savings from a link- up with NatWest than its Edinburgh rival, Bank of Scotland.

Bass is considering a daring $650m-$750m bid for the Czech Republic's two largest brewers in a move that could lead to a demerger of its beer business from its larger Holiday Inn and Inter-Continental hotels division.

Mail on Sunday

Pernod-Ricard, the French drinks group, is poised to launch an ambitious pounds 4bn bid for Allied Domecq, its bigger UK rival.

NatWest may choose Royal Bank of Scotland as its preferred partner to fight off Bank of Scotland and save its merger with Legal & General, the insurer.

British Airways is aiming to capture a big slice of the growing delivery market for goods ordered on the Internet.

Asda, the supermarket group, is to fire another salvo in the increasingly bitter high street price war with a fresh round of cuts aimed at Boots and Superdrug, the two chemists giants.

Sunday Express

Coutts has been forced to shelve an unpopular plan to force 200 senior managers to reapply for their jobs after the private bank realised the process would have coincided with the Millennium, when its computer systems will be working at full stretch.

George Staple, the former head of the Serious Fraud Office who now works for law firm Clifford Chance, has been called in to investigate allegations at a rival solicitor, Cameron McKenna, over its Russian business unit.

Societe Generale, the French bank that recently lost the bitter fight for control of Banque Nationale de Paris, is considering whether to ride to NatWest's rescue as a white knight bid to rival Bank of Scotland.