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.

Granada raids Forte shares

MATHEW HORSMAN

OFT hampered by slow system

PETER RODGERS

DR ALAN KEMP APPOINTED AS SPECIAL ADVISER TO MICHAEL HESELTINE

Michael Heseltine brushed aside Opposition protests yesterday and appointed Dr Alan Kemp his full-time special adviser.

Regulation cannot continue without reform

In clearing all three offers for regional electricity companies, Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has in effect declared open season for bids in the electricity sector. Despite blanket condemnation from his rent-a-quote shadow, Brian Wilson, it is hard to see how he could have done otherwise. Two of the bids raised no competition issues at all and the other, the Scottish Power bid for Manweb, only minor ones. The decision is another slap in the face for Professor Stephen Littlechild - but his case for having the Scottish Power bid referred was always a questionable one. Though the takeover clearly involves the loss of an independent comparitor, it can hardly be argued that this is critical to the regulator's ability to do an adequate job.

Decision time over REC takeovers

With most ministers returned from holiday, the backlog of reference decisions can finally be cleared. The most pressing and, which ever way they swing, most controversial, involve the three bids for regional electricity companies. Here is what officials will be telling Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, as he squares up for the decision. "There is no doubt that this is an awkward one, both in terms of established policy and the political fallout. For choice, the regulator, Professor Stephen Littlechild, would refer all three but it is not his decision and in any case, his judgement is occasionally questionable. We believe we've persuaded him to back off on Hanson's bid for Eastern Electric and on Southern's bid for Sweb, but he is sticking to his guns on the Scottish Power bid for Manweb.

Sweb bid to receive green light

THE Department of Trade and Industry is expected to decide this week whether an American bid for South Western Electricity can go ahead or will be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

S&N gets amber light

Pubs and brewing: More consolidation on the way as DTI moves to clear Courage bid while Bass strengthens food business

US stalls on pounds 202m sale of Fisons arm

MAGNUS GRIMOND

Tarmac brick deal approved

Tarmac brick deal approved

MPs urge competition reforms

Complete reform of competition policy along European Commission lines and a merger of the Monopolies Commission and the Office of Fair Trading were recommended yesterday by the all-party Commons trade and industry select committee.

Where's the beef, Mr Brown?

The more specific the evils, the easier it is for company lawyers to wriggle out If he is serious, he should have something to say about health care and the law

Europe to expand its powers over takeovers

Peter Rodgers has a rare interview with the EC's mergers man

Premiums cut

The Pru has slashed building insurance premiums by up to 32%.

Heseltine moves to third snub in monopoly game

BY NIGEL COPE
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee