February 24, 2013 / 2:15 PM / in 5 years

PRESS DIGEST - Sunday British business Feb. 24

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Sunday Times RBS LINES UP 5 BLN POUND SHARE SELLOFF Royal Bank of Scotland is laying plans for a multi-billion-pound share sale that could hand a pre-election windfall to finance minister George Osborne. The taxpayer-backed bank has told its executives to have the business primed and ready to sell shares by the fourth quarter of 2014 - just months before the likely polling day. At least 10 percent of the stock is likely to be sold, repaying about 5 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that could help patch up the nation’s finances. U.S. FUND FEASTS ON COUNTRYSIDE An American fund is closing in on a deal to buy one of Britain’s leading house builders in the latest sign of a revival in the battered sector. Oaktree Capital Management is near to agreeing a takeover of Countryside Properties.

INTU WEIGHS CASH CALL TO FUND SPREE The owner of Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Intu Properties , is considering tapping investors for hundreds of millions of pounds to fund a planned expansion into Milton Keynes. ABERTIS PUTS UK AIRPORTS UP FOR SALE Luton, Belfast and Cardiff airports are up for sale after the Spanish group that owns them, Abertis, ordered a review of its 1-billion-euro ($1.3 billion) transport division. VODAFONE READIES SWOOP FOR YOIGO Vodafone is preparing a takeover bid for a small Spanish mobile operator, Yoigo, in an attempt to bolster its flagging fortunes on the Iberian peninsula. Yoigo was put up for sale last year by Nordic provider TeliaSonera but bids fell short of its 1-billion-euro target. ONLINE PAY PIONEER SKRILL IN 600 MLN POUND SALE A British rival to PayPal, the online payments provider, is gearing up for a sale that could raise up to 600 million pounds. Skrill, which owns the Moneybookers brand, is expected to be put on the block after six years under private equity ownership by Investcorp, the Middle Eastern investment house. Sunday Telegraph RBS PLANS INVESTMENT BANK CUTS, TO HIKE SWAPS MIS-SELLING PROVISION The Royal Bank of Scotland is to reduce the size of its investment bank by as much as 30 billion pounds and cut hundreds more jobs as the taxpayer-backed lender attempts to head off growing government pressure to close down the controversial division. RBS is also set to announce a more than twenty-fold increase in the size of its provision against mis-sold interest rate swaps, potentially taking the size of its compensation fund to more than 1 billion pounds from the present 50 million. CENTRICA REVEALS ITS 14 BLN POUND BOOST TO UK ECONOMY Centrica is to reveal that it contributes more than 14 billion pounds to the British economy in taxes, job creation and contracts with small and medium-sized suppliers across the country. The boast will appear in an economic impact report by Oxford Economics, and Centrica hopes it will head off criticism of the size of its profits, due out this week. CHEMRING LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO LEAKED FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS British defence group Chemring has launched an internal investigation after sensitive financial information was leaked from within one of its business divisions to another business. BARCLAYS LOOKS FOR 7 BLN POUNDS IN EQUITY CO-COS TO BUILD UP BALANCE SHEET Barclays will unveil plans within the next few weeks to strengthen its balance sheet by raising billions of pounds in “contingent capital”. The lender plans to seek shareholder approval at its annual meeting on April 25 to issue as much as 7 billion pounds in so-called “Equity Co-Cos” which convert to shares if the lender’s capital ratio falls below a certain level. BUMI CEO PUSHES FOR BAKRIES SPLIT Nick von Schirnding, chief executive of Bumi, is to lobby the Indonesian coal company’s major institutional shareholders in a bid to receive backing for its planned separation from the Bumi family. Financial Mail JOHN LEWIS ‘HELD TALKS TO BUY RIVAL HOUSE OF FRASER’ John Lewis held talks with department store rival House of Fraser about buying it last year but decided not to proceed, sources have told the Financial Mail. The revelation comes amid rumours that other retailers have looked at buying some or all of the 63 stores.

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