What The Sunday Business Papers Said

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The Independent on Sunday

DEREK HIGGS, the Prudential fund manager appointed last week to spearhead the Government's pounds 5bn private finance initiative, is a close business associate of the former Paymaster-General, Geoffrey Robinson.

Graduates straight out of university are being offered six-figure packages as City firms face an unprecedented recruitment crisis, with the number of applicants down more than 50 per cent from last year.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, the American venture capital group that acquired ailing food producer Hillsdown Holdings in this year's biggest private equity deal, is already thought to be considering selling it on.

Carl Cushnie, whose trade finance group, Versailles, is subject to a Department of Trade and Industry probe into accounting irregularities, also ran a computer group that went bust seven years ago.

More than pounds 15bn of venture capital deals have been completed so far this year, pounds 1bn more than for the whole of 1998, making 1999 a new record.

The Sunday Telegraph

INTERBREW, the family-owned Belgian beer maker behind brands such as Stella Artois and Labatts, is considering a $8bn- $10bn flotation.

BT is preparing a white-knight bid for Esat, one of Ireland's largest telecoms companies, which is under a $1bn hostile attack from Newtel of Scandinavia.

IG Index, Britain's leading spread betting company, is in talks with broker Henderson Crosthwaite to plan a pounds 60m float in the first half of next year.

Vodafone AirTouch is set to make a pounds 1.5bn investment in one of Asia's fastest growing mobile phone companies, Shinsegi Telecom in South Korea.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is close to forging a far-reaching alliance with the world's number one Internet access provider America Online, giving the retail giant a bridgehead into e-commerce.

The Sunday Times

A BOARDROOM cull is looming at Versailles, the embattled finance group, which is searching for a finance director to replace Frederick Clough and considering replacing its financial advisers.

A transatlantic defence sector tie-up between Baesystems, formerly British Aerospace, and Boeing, is being anticipated next year.

BT and Spanish national telecoms carrier Telefonica have held pounds 140bn merger talks in recent weeks.

Telewest, the cable company, is preparing to launch a pounds 2.5bn takeover bid for Flextech, the television channel producer, before the end of this week.

Britain's retailers are being warned to expect a post-millennium hangover in spending, at a time when many remain uncertain about prospects for the Christmas period.

Sunday Business

TESCO, the UK's biggest food retailer, has recruited investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston to lead any takeover bid for Marks & Spencer.

Tory party treasurer Michael Ashcroft settled his libel suit with The Times newspaper because he did not want to make a lifetime enemy of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

The Tote, the state-owned bookmaker, is planning to move its Internet betting site offshore to avoid Government gambling duties.

Europe's biggest broadcaster, Germany's CLT-Ufa, is considering gatecrashing the pounds 8bn merger between Carlton and United News & Media by bidding for one or both of the British companies.

The Mail on Sunday:

THE PIVOTAL family stake in Sainsbury's, which until now has protected the food retail giant from the threat of takeover, may be put up for sale.

Microsoft is to integrate its Windows operating system into Orange's new generation of mobile phones, confirming the software giant's intention to dominate the wireless Internet market.

Rail regulator Tom Winsor will this week tell Railtrack it will be allowed to earn higher profits than investors had expected.

Top City institutions have introduced unprecedented restrictions on stock exchange dealing due to millennium bug fears.

The Mail on Sunday

CHANCELLOR GORDON Brown is planning a tax, National Insurance and VAT amnesty for businesses in the informal economy in moves to bring down the cost of tax dodgers and benefit cheats.

European banking and insurance group Fortis is seeking a strategic alliance with Abbey National that may lead to a full cross-Channel merger.

Two Cambridge computer science graduates could become the youngest members of the elite 100 richest people in Britain when their Internet company, Zeus Technologies, floats on the Nasdaq stock exchange for an estimated pounds 750m.

The planned mergers of the Lazard investment banks in New York, London and Paris is being held up by a row among regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Sunday Express

RICHARD BRANSON is finalising plans for his assault on the utilities market, and has poached British Gas marketing director Jon Kinsey to lead the expansion.

The GMB union is to sue Marks & Spencer for compensation over the job losses inflicted on members when the retailer cancelled its business with Scottish supplier William Baird.

Carl Cushnie, the beleaguered boss of trade finance group Versailles, has appointed solicitor Ashurst Morris Crisp to help combat mounting problems at the company.

The US investment bank JP Morgan is set to back Richard Branson's bid to run the National Lottery, most likely with a pounds 500m securitised bonds issue that would help finance new lottery terminals.