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

Too late for Lang to cut off electricity mergers: comment

Poor little Northern Electric. The spirited defence it launched yesterday against its US assailant seems unlikely to do the trick, even though the shares promise to pay out 20 per cent of their value next year with 10 per cent a year promised thereafter. Northern's largest shareholder, the Pru, seems prepared to give it a whirl, but with Labour now fully committed to a much harsher regulatory regime on top of the windfall profits tax, most shareholders are going to just take their 650p a share and run.

Cowie bus deal goes to MMC

Cowie, the North-east of England bus group and car dealer, saw its shares dive 7 per cent yesterday in reaction to a surprise announcement that its pounds 282m acquisition of British Bus had been referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

German cartel proposal opposed

Britain is fighting a rearguard action to block German plans for the creation of an independent cartel authority to vet mergers and takeovers throughout the European Union.

Open skies cloud the issue for BA deal

This week Ian Lang, the Trade and Industry Secretary, has his first opportunity to scrutinise the Office of Fair Trading's recommendations on the proposed alliance between British Airways and American Airlines.

British Gas's Goldfish angers watchdog

British Gas could be heading for another confrontation with the industry regulator, Clare Spottiswoode, this time over this week's high-profile launch of "Goldfish", the company's venture into the credit card business.

Disposals likely to spark war for Lloyds Chemists 450 words here like this here

A renewed bidding war for Lloyds Chemists drew closer yesterday after it said agreements had been reached for the depot sales demanded by competition authorities.

Nat Express rail referral puts bus bids on guard

Bus companies may be put off bidding for rail franchises after yesterday's announcement by the Department of Trade and Industry that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission was to investigate the acquisition of the Midland Main Line franchise by National Express.

OFT crosses swords with Labour

The Director General of Fair Trading, John Bridgeman, set himself on a collision course with Labour yesterday by rejecting one of the key changes the party would make to competition policy once in power.

Labour plans bid overhaul

The Labour Party is considering a plan to keep rival bidders at bay after companies have had their takeovers referred for a monopolies investigation. This would be a substantial shift in policy from the present government's position.

CBI backs Labour on reform of MMC

The Labour Party and the Confederation of British Industry have reached almost identical conclusions about how to reform Britain's competition authorities, it emerged yesterday.

Labour to woo British Gas by scrapping regulator

Labour is planning to relax controls over British Gas by scrapping Ofgas, the power industry regulator.

BT and Oftel to lock horns over local calls

A new battle between BT and the telecoms regulator Oftel is about to break out over the expected growth in the market for local telephone calls. According to BT's own estimates growth in local calls will slow to 2 per cent a year in the five years from 1997 from a post-war average of 5 per cent.

Oftel toughens stance on BT

BT faces a fresh round of controversy over plans by the watchdog, Oftel, to acquire far-reaching new powers against anti-competitive practices. The regulator is understood to be toughening its stance on potential abuse by BT of its market position and, unless the company agrees the changes, the matter will be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

British Gas to hold back on domestic price cuts

British Gas has decided against slashing prices to maintain market share when competition is introduced in the spring, giving rivals an unexpectedly clear run at the domestic market.

OFT boss seeks wider powers

PETER RODGERS
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