PRESS DIGEST - Financial Times - April 7

Tue Apr 6, 2010 10:30pm EDT

GARTMORE IN BUY-OUT UNION WITH HERMES

On Wednesday, Gartmore and Hermes will announce the merger of their private equity fund of funds activities. The joint venture, to be called Hermes GPE, will have 4.1 billion pounds of assets under management. Alan Mackay, former 3i (III.L) partner, will join the venture as its chief executive. Peter Gale and Susan Flynn, respective heads of Gartmore and Hermes, will be Hermes GPE's co-chief investment officers.

RSA INVOLVED IN EUROPEAN CAPITAL RULES MODEL

RSA is among a group of insurers that has supported the Financial Services Authority to develop models that much of the industry will be looking to use under planned new European capital rules. The City watchdog has been working with the select group of insurers to help design the internal models and how they will be approved by the regulator. RSA chief executive Andy Haste said the group would be ready for new European capital rules, due to take effect from 2012.

RYANAIR TO RAISE CHECKED BAGGAGE CHARGE

Ryanair (RYA.L) (RYA.I), the budget airline, will raise its checked luggage fees from 15 pounds to 20 pounds for July and August. Analysts estimate the decision to increase fees during the busiest summer months could raise up to 20 million pounds. The airline said it was bringing in the increase because it was "determined to incentivise passengers to travel light this summer". The new fees will be introduced from Thursday morning.

GRADUATES' CITY PREFERENCES SURPRISE

According to a new study, the next generation of City employees would rather work for the potentially defunct Financial Services Authority or Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), the lossmaking, part-nationalised bank, than some of the fastest growing groups in the market. The Targetjobs survey of 80,000 student and recent graduates found the world's largest banking group HSBC (HSBA.L) topped the list of businesses they would like to work for, with UK bank Barclays coming second. However, RBS and the FSA were ranked three and four. This puts them ahead of Lloyds Banking Group at No. 7 and Santander at No. 8.

PRINTING WARNS ON PROFITS AND RECESSION

Printing.com, the franchise operator that produces business cards, leaflets and websites for thousands of small businesses, has reported a sudden deterioration in trading. The company's shares fell 3.5 pence to 30 pence as it warned of a double-dip recession hitting small businesses. Full-year results would come in "marginally below" market expectations, Printing.com said. It blamed a "second drop in confidence" in March among its small business customers.

BLAIR SPOKESMAN TO JOIN FSA

The Financial Services Authority has appointed Tom Kelly, who was once former Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman, as communications director. Kelly will oversee the City watchdog's public relations team and report directly to chief executive Hector Sants. He was Blair's official spokesman between 2001 and 2007, before becoming corporate and public affairs director at airports operator BAA. The Conservative Party has proposed breaking up the regulator if it wins the May 6 election.

THREAT TO 'WASH-UP' FROM CIDER TAX

The Conservatives have threatened to reverse the government's planned increase in cider duty. Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said although his party had previously suggested a punitive tax on super-strength ciders, he was concerned the levy would fall upon regular brands. There are only two full working days for Labour to push through its ten bills and several private members' bills before parliament ends on Monday. Hammond's comments suggest another squeeze on the available time Labour can enact them by holding up the finance bill in the end-of-parliament "wash-up" of unfinished business.

STAFF HIRING SHOWS FASTEST RISE FOR 12 YEARS

According to a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the industry group, and professional services firm KPMG, hiring across the economy increased last month at the fastest rate for 12 years. The survey of 400 employment agencies underlines the strength of the recovery in the jobs market. However, it also warns that a likely shake-out of jobs in the public sector could slow down labour market recovery in the coming months.

DOUBLE-DIP AVERTED BUT RECOVERY SLOW

A closely watched survey by the British Chambers of Commerce reveals the economy avoided a double-dip recession in the first quarter of the year. However, the survey of 5,500 companies suggests the economy is experiencing only a meagre recovery. According to its findings, the service sector continues to grow but the manufacturing sector has stagnated. Employment in industry and investment spending also fell back.

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