PRESS DIGEST-Sunday British Press - April 1
LONDON, April 1
LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday:
Sunday Times COOKSON PLANS ELECTRONICS SPIN OFF Cookson is working on a plan to spin off its electronics business, which accounts for about a third of its 2.8 billion pounds ($4.5 billion)of annual sales, and list it as a standalone company. It has appointed Rothschild to work on the proposal.
GLOBAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND JP MORGAN VIE FOR EDINBURGH AIRPORT London Gatwick airport owner Global Infrastructure Partners and an international consortium led by JP Morgan are vying to buy BAA's Edinburgh airport after buyout firms Carlyle and 3i dropped out of the auction. Second round bids are due in the middle of this month.
NBNK TO REJOIN LLOYDS RACE THIS WEEK-SOURCES Former Northern Rock chief executive Gary Hoffman's buyout vehicle NBNK Investment is planning to restart its campaign to buy more than 600 branches from Lloyds Banking Group this week, according to industry sources.
Lloyds had been in exclusive negotiations to sell the branches to the Co-operative Group, but the mutually owned group said on Thursday that regulatory and financial hurdles might stop it completing the acquisition. 3i SHAREHOLDERS DEMAND STRATEGY SHIFT Top shareholders at 3i want a radical new strategy at the quoted private equity firm after the departure of chief executive Michael Queen last week.
Investors have called for rapid sell offs and savage cost cuts, and have even suggested the firm considers selling all of its assets and closing down. AQUASCUTUM PUT UP FOR SALE British clothing maker and retailer Aquascutum has been put up for sale by Harold Tillman, who also owns fashion brand Jaeger. Suitors are understood to include Hong Kong-based YGM Trading, and a number of private equity firms, including Carlyle's Asian operations, are believed to have expressed interest.
PRIVATE EQUITY EXAMINES FOOD BRANDS TIE-UP Two baskets of food brands, one from Premier Foods and one from Leeds-based manufacturer Symington's, could be snapped up by private equity and merged into one food company. Both Permira and PAI Partners are considering a plan to merge the brands up for sale by Premier, including Robertson's, Angel Delight and Bird's, with Symington's Ragu, Aunt Bessie's and the British and Irish rights to Campbell's soup.
CANADIAN PENSION FUND EYES GOALS SOCCER CENTERS The private equity arm of Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension plan wants to buy five-a-side soccer operator Goals Soccer Centers. Both parties declined to comment. Sunday Telegraph OPCAPITA TO RESCUE GAME GROUP'S BRITISH STORES Investment firm OpCapita is set to buy the British stores of video games retailer Game Group out of administration, safeguarding the future of the bulk of its remaining 333 shops.
It is thought OpCapita, which owns electrical retailer Comet, has agreed to buy Game's UK assets for a nominal amount, believed to be 1 pound. ARGENTINA THREATENS BRITISH AND U.S. BANKS OVER FALKLANDS' OIL A group of British and American banks have been threatened with legal action by the Argentine government for advising companies involved in the Falkland Islands' 1.6 billion-pound oil industry. RBS CHIEF IN SHARE SALE TALKS Royal Bank of Scotland's chief executive Stephen Hester has held meetings with fund managers about making a major investment in the bank priced at as low as 32 pence a share. The talks come after it emerged the government had held early stage discussions with Abu Dhabi wealth funds about investing in the 82-percent State-owned bank. DIAGEO APPOINTS GOLDMAN FOR CUERVO BID Drinks group Diageo has instructed Goldman Sachs to finalise its talks on taking a stake in Jose Cuervo, valuing the Mexican tequila brand in the region of $3 billion. Independent on Sunday BALFOUR BEATTY TO OFFLOAD HOSPITAL STAKE Balfour Beatty is looking to sell its one-third stake in London's University College Hospital. It hopes to fetch 60 million to 80 million pounds ($96-128 million) for the stake. HELEN ALEXANDER LINED UP TO CHAIR UNITED BUSINESS MEDIA Helen Alexander, a former CBI president and chairman of privately owned publisher Incisive Media, is understood to have been lined up to chair publishing and events business United Business Media. VODAFONE CONSIDERS ASKING UN TO ARBITRATE ON INDIA DISPUTE Vodafone is ready to take the Indian government to the United Nations over its demands for the telecoms company to hand over more than $2 billion in back-dated tax.
The company is considering taking the Indian Government to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, where the dispute could be settled through arbitration. Sunday Express WEALTH FUNDS EYE RBS STAKE Sovereign wealth funds Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore's Temasek Holdings and the Government Pension Fund of Norway are understood to be weighing up whether to bid for part of the UK government's 82 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland.