The Government has brought forward the second phase of its Help to Buy scheme by three months. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the Sunday Telegraph the scheme would be extended from new-build homes to all residential property up to £600,000 in the coming days. The original date was January 2014 but it has been changed to coincide with the Conservative party conference. Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland were ready to provide mortgages for the programme, which critics have said risks creating a property bubble.
Europe's biggest activist hedge fund is pushing for G4S to break itself up, the Sunday Times reported. Cevian Capital has told the security company to look at selling its "cash solutions" business, which makes about a quarter of G4S profits. But Ashley Almanza is likely to resist Cevian's suggestion, a source told the paper.
Albermarle & Bond is finalising a rescue fundraising that could be announced on September 30th alongside the pawnbroker's delayed annual results, the Sunday Times said. Annual profits are forecast to have halved, risking the breaching of Albermarle's loan terms. The company, which has been hit by the fall in the gold price, may need between £15m and £20m to bring its £50bn-plus debt under control.
Centrica and the other big UK energy companies are in talks with the Government to delay a multi-billion pound environmental scheme, the Sunday Telegraph said. The Government is considering changes to the Energy Companies Obligation home insulation plan to avoid big price rises before the May 2015 election. The energy groups' £3.1bn cost estimate for the scheme is more than double the Government's. Centrica and SSE are calling for an 18-month delay before the scheme is implemented.
Wolseley is expected to announce a special dividend of about £300m when it posts annual results on October 1st. Citing City analysts, the Sunday Times said the plumbing supplies company's planned payout and normal dividend would be the final repayment of the £1bn raised from shareholders in a rights issue during the housing slump. The company's business has gained from strong recoveries in the US and UK housing markets, falling interest payments and cautious management.
Tesco is expected to say like-for-like sales in the UK arm fell for a second straight quarter when it posts first-half results on October 2nd, the Sunday Express and other papers said. JP Morgan analyst Jaime Vazquez said the supermarket group's recovery plan was not yet paying off and that "the sales trend is no better than that preceding the 2012 profit warning", the paper said.
Royal Bank of Scotland's broker, UBS, has put forward a confidential plan to restructure the group so that the Government can sell its stake at a profit, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Instead of creating a small "bad bank", RBS should split off its Citizens US retail bank and Ulster Bank to leave a "new" RBS that can easily be privatised. Shares in "new" RBS would be worth 540p each, more than the Government's break-even price of 500p. The Government's non-voting "B" share in RBS would become 100% equity in Citizens and other "bad" assets.
Capita is favourite to win the bidding battle to run London's congestion charge, the Sunday Times said. Capita and IBM have been shortlisted for the five-year scheme worth £350m and is close to announcing a preferred bidder. IBM runs the scheme now and it would be a boost to Capita to snatch it back.
DFS is planning a flotation that would value the sofa seller at up to £1bn. Its private equity backer, Advent, wants to join the rush of initial public offerings (IPOs) set in train by high share prices
and the recovering economy, the Sunday Times said. DFS has run a beauty parade of investment banks for the IPO and will appoint advisers in the next few weeks.
A senior aide to Business Secretary Vince Cable has said selling the Government's shares
in Lloyds Banking Group could be as big a mistake as Gordon Brown's sell-off of gold in the late 1990s, the Mail on Sunday reported. Lawrence Tomlinson voiced his opinion to the paper but will repeat it at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference on September 30th. Tomlinson said: "Just because we can get some money back it doesn't make sense. I would hate to think they do the same thing Gordon Brown did."
Ladbrokes' chairman has told investors he will oust the bookmaker's Chief Executive if performance does not improve by summer 2014. The Sunday Times said Peter Erskine gave the assurance about the future of Richard Glynn after Ladbrokes' second profit warning of 2013. A top-10 shareholder said: "The chairman understands the market only waits so long and he pre-empted the discussion."
Royal Mail warned in its flotation prospectus that a national strike by postal workers could cause its shares to "fall significantly". The risk of a "materially adverse" effect from a strike was mentioned in the document along with a £67m provision for potential industrial disease claims and a €10m judgment against the company in Italy, which Royal Mail is contesting, the Sunday Times reported.