News

Outlook Billionaire Thomas Sandell is making it quite clear that it will take more than a couple of paracetamol to handle the headache he is causing for FirstGroup.

Institutions may sue Wickes

Institutional investors in Wickes yesterday raised the prospect of suing the company, or selling their shares if a bidder emerged once an auditors' investigation into serious accounting problems at the troubled DIY retailer was completed.

Wickes problems 'go back to 1990'

There are fears that illicit accounting at Wickes, the troubled DIY stores group, may stretch as far back as 1990, with profits overstated by pounds 15m or more.

Wickes launches investigation

PATRICK TOOHER

Sweetbaum forced to resign as Wickes chief

Henry Sweetbaum last night bowed to intense pressure from institutional shareholders by resigning as the pounds 1m-a-year chairman and chief executive of Wickes, Britain's third biggest DIY retailer.

Woolwich close to pension deal with ex-chief Robinson

Peter Robinson, the former Woolwich chief executive dramatically ousted from his post two months ago, is on the verge of clinching a compensation package with the building society that could allow him to immediately draw an annual pension of pounds 165,000.

Waste-busting committee hits the road for Britain; City Diary

The MPs investigating the sacking of former Stock Exchange boss Michael Lawrence have been stern critics of incompetence wherever they find it. The Treasury and Civil Service Committee also have a reputation for criticising money-wasting ideas. How strange then that they are planning two overseas trips, the first in June to Washington and New York, in order to see how the Americans run their stock exchanges. As committee chairman Sir Thomas Arnold, Conservative member for Hazel Grove, puts it: "The Americans are way ahead of us." The second trip, planned for the autumn, will take the MPs to Paris and Frankfurt. It is not yet clear which members of the committee will be lucky enough to go on the junkets. Will Brian Sedgemore, Labour member for Hackney and Shoreditch and scourge of the Bank of England, be packing his bags? Nicholas Budgen, Conservative member for Wolverhampton South-west, told Mr Lawrence when he appeared before the committee that it had "as much a right to investigate the sacking of Stock Exchange cleaning staff" as it did of him. Indeed, said Mr Budgen, the whole investigation was a "waste of time and money". He says now that while he has heard about the trips, "I honestly haven't thought about them." Hmm.

City Diary; There's something in them there bore holes

British investors in Timbuktu Gold are holding their breath as they wait to hear whether the Calgary-listed mining company launched in February is either one of the most exciting gold mines ever discovered or merely a hole in the ground. City broker T Hoare specialises in commodity companies in out-of-the-way locations, and placed 4 million shares with British institutions when Timbuktu Gold floated in January.

Legal firms 'go offshore' to avoid litigation

Many of Britain's biggest law firms are poised to follow the nation's accountants and set themselves up offshore, or give up being partnerships, to protect themselves against rising litigation claims.

Gateway to the East

City law firms with Hong Kong offices are adopting a wider strategic view as they prepare for next year's handover to China. By Robert Verkaik

Woolwich details Robinson claims

Lawyers for Peter Robinson, the Woolwich chief executive whose recent shock resignation following claims of financial irregularities rocked the society, have received the first documents detailing the allegations against him.

IMRO threat to 23 firms

Willis Corroon and Sedgwick Noble Lowndes, two leading financial institutions, are under investigation by Imro, the fund management watchdog, over the pensions transfer scandal.

Legal eagle turned master poacher

A former star of a blue-chip City law firm is now allying himself with a US invasion, writes Patrick Hosking

Diana's grey matter

Anthony Julius

Freshfields top of the takeover table

BY ROGER TRAPP

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The Chancellor received conflicting advice on the Budget from business leaders yesterday.
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