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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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

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A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
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Charlie Sheen said he would
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Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

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Daniel Radcliffe gives a strong performance in Horns
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The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes