News

Unilever has announced plans to ditch PricewaterhouseCoopers after 27 years and is set to move its  £18 million a year audit to rival KPMG.

Outlook: Merger mania starts to run out of steam

IS MERGER mania turning to merger aversion? Well perhaps not quite yet. Too many City bonuses are riding on the present dash to consolidate - as well as some heady share price valuations. But for two of the present wave of giant mergers to turn to dust within the space of a couple of weeks begins to look eerily like a trend.

Investcorp trumps Quebecor with agreed bid for Watmoughs

INVESTCORP, the financial group backed by Middle Eastern investors, yesterday waded into the bid battle for Watmoughs with an agreed offer valuing the printing company at pounds 250m. It also unveiled plans to create a major force in the European printing industry by merging Watmoughs with one of its UK rivals.

Wait for Thorn's strategic review

the investment column

Outlook: When Brussels knows best

On 1 March another slice of decision-making power will be taken away from the European Union's individual member states and handed over to Brussels. From that date, the EC will assume the authority for vetting all mergers involving companies with a combined turnover of more than 2.5bn ecus (pounds 1.6bn). The previous threshold was 5bn ecus.

Matthew Clark fails to find a buyer

Matthew Clark, the troubled cider company that includes Diamond White and Dry Blackthorn, has failed to attract a buyer despite an attempt to encourage takeover interest. The news raises doubts about the group's future, according to City sources.

Outlook: Ducking the important competition issues

This is a self-interested piece of commentary, admittedly, but it is also one with a wider significance for business and the way it is regulated. One of our competitors, The Times, is next month planning to cut the cover price of its Saturday edition to 10p a copy. There is also some talk of it doing the same to its Thursday edition. At this stage it is not clear whether this is being considered as a one-off, promotional offer, or as a more permanent thing.

Lafarge ready to sell quarries to get bid OK

Lafarge, the French building giant, is preparing to sell its ready-mix concrete quarries in Norwich and Leicester in order to get its pounds 1.8bn bid for Redland past the UK competition authorities. The move should remove the final obstacle to the takeover.

UK authorities to look at Lafarge bid for Redland

John Battle, the energy minister, yesterday surprised Lafarge by signalling that the UK competition authorities wanted to launch a full- scale enquiry into the French building group's pounds 1.8bn takeover for British rival Redland. Andrew Yates finds that the move is unlikely to derail the deal.

Outlook: French get a sense of deja vu

French get a sense of deja vu

Verdict on Eastern bid not due until January

Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, is not expected to deliver her ruling on the bid by PacifiCorp of the US for Eastern, Britain's biggest regional electricity company, until next January at the earliest.

P&O/Stena link set for UK and European approval

P&O/Stena link set for UK and European approval

Energy deal gets Littlechild OK

Professor Stephen Littlechild, the electricity industry regulator, has decided against raising any serious regulatory objections to the proposed pounds 3.7bn takeover of Energy Group, owner of the Eastern Electricity, by PacifiCorp of the US.

BT would query competition issue

British Telecom may challenge the legality of the windfall tax, to be revealed in next Wednesday's Budget, on competition grounds because its main UK competitor, Cable & Wireless, is unlikely to be included.

Drivers could get Go-Ahead for pounds 17,000 lift

Scores of Brighton bus drivers yesterday found themselves in line for windfall payments of around pounds 17,000 each following a recommended pounds 5.76m takeover bid from the Go-Ahead Group to buy their company, Brighton Transport.

Will competition meet its match?

Peter Rodgers asks if Labour will succeed in making business supervisio n more effective
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