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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