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Outlook The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street likes drama to be reserved firmly for the stage. So yesterday's announcement from her Financial Policy Committee on "potential amplification channels" of financial risks was characteristically short on hyperbole.

Danone consortium in pounds 1.26bn bid to swallow United Biscuits

THE FRENCH contender in the race to buy United Biscuits last night mounted a surprise 11th-hour offer for the underperforming Jaffa Cake maker.

AIB stock tumbles as euro slices into margins

SHARES IN Allied Irish Banks fell sharply yesterday after the group disclosed that it suffered a one-off margin hit in the first half as a result of Ireland joining the euro this year.

My Biggest Mistake: Tim Ashley: Just trust your own instincts

Tim Ashley, 38, studied at Oxford and Cambridge before becoming a banker. He worked for Japanese and Danish banks, then joined Lehman Brothers. He left in 1995 to found Wickedweb, a web design company, and is now sales and marketing director at the AIM-listed NetBenefit.

ONdigital hits back at BSkyB with free offer

ONDIGITAL YESTERDAY fired back in its battle against Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB by announcing it will match its main rival's offer to give away digital TV equipment.

Nycomed sells 70% drugs stake

NYCOMED AMERSHAM, the world's leading maker of medical imaging products, yesterday agreed to sell a 70 per cent stake in its pharmaceuticals business to Nordic Capital, a Swedish private equity investor, for pounds 275m in order to focus on its main businesses.

Lehman Bros profits slump 60%

LEHMAN BROTHERS, the Wall Street investment house that has been the subject of repeated takeover speculation, saw profits slump 60 per cent to $74m in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with $185m in the last three months of 1997. The sharply lower figure, announced by chairman Richard Fuld (pictured) compares adversely with the $879m notched up in the period by US rival Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 9 per cent ahead of the year before.

Fast Track: A-Z of Employers Lehman Brothers

Age: 148

Outlook: Don't trust this banking euphoria

WHETHER OR not the banking sector is already through its dark night of the soul - or, as seems more likely, only half way - the prospect of banking mergers and consolidation is already back at the top of the agenda, strongly lifting the mood in markets in the process.

US bidders for Energy clash over $2.8bn Texas share plan

A FRESH WAR of words broke out last night between the rival US bidders for Energy Group after one of them, Texas Utilities, was forced to disclose that it may issue shares worth up to $2.8bn to help finance its offer for the company.

Market Report: Next suits City with a smart recovery

Next, the retailer, ended a threadbare week with a smart, if modest, recovery. The shares rallied 41p to 753p as investment house Morgan Stanley, long time fans of the group, dismissed the bear stories which have swirled around the stock market and upgraded its recommendation to "strong buy".

Texas set to trump Pacificorp offer for Energy this week

TEXAS Utilities is expected to bid 800p a share this week for Energy Group, formerly Hanson's energy division, in a last- minute bid to trump the existing 765p a share offer from another US group, Pacificorp.

US finance houses ahead

Two leading US finance houses, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Lehman Brothers, have reported record fourth-quarter earnings, led by increasing profits from investment banking. Their shares declined, though, as US. stocks dropped and analysts questioned if earnings would decline in the months ahead.
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