Premier Foods is planning a 300m pounds rights issue for early in the new year as it seeks to fend off pressure from US fund Apollo, the Sunday Times reported. The maker of Hovis bread, Mr Kipling cakes and Sharwoods is also likely to announce a pension holiday and a big bond issue as part of Chief Executive Gavin Darby's plan to turn debt-laden Premier "into a normal company again". Darby's plans are complicated by Apollo's emergence as a big creditor. The fund specialises in taking over weak companies.
Standard Chartered's finance director has dismissed speculation that the bank is planning a rights issue, the Sunday Telegraph said. Richard Meddings told the paper the bank's capital was "strong" and added: "We have had very good continuous conversations with the PRA [Prudential Regulation Authority] and they are very comfortable with our capital position." Meddings said trading issues the bank highlighted in its December 4th pre-close statement were wider trends that its rivals also faced. Meddings also said the UK's bank levy was unfair on Standard Chartered and HSBC who had to pay the levy on assets mainly outside the UK.
Royal Bank of Scotland may increase base salaries for some of its top investment bankers to sidestep new EU limits on bonuses, the Sunday Times said. A few bankers at RBS's markets unit could receive almost double their monthly wage to make up for the curbs. Preliminary talks over the idea have started with UK Financial Investments, which manages the government's stakes in bailed out banks.
Bank of England (BoE) Deputy Governor Andrew Bailey has warned there will be a clampdown on house purchases if price rises appear to be getting out of control, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Bailey, who is in charge of maintaining financial stability, said the property market was one of his main issues for next year. Curbs on the market could include increasing the capital banks have to hold on mortgages and strengthening tests for potential buyers. He said there was no evidence yet of a housing bubble.
Ofgem has put on hold new charges for power firms that could add £20 to household bills every year, the Mail on Sunday reported. Project Transit, designed to change the levies imposed on power firms for using the National Grid, was due to be published next week but, after three years of planning, the regulator has delayed it for a year. In a letter, Ofgem referred to "significant new information" about the cost of the plan.
Rapidly falling unemployment could exert pressure on the Bank of England (BoE) to change its forward guidance policy as early as March, the Sunday Times said. BoE Governor Mark Carney launched the policy in August and said interest rates would not rise until unemployment dropped to 7% at the highest but the jobless rate has fallen much faster than the BoE expected. Brian Hilliard, an economist at Societe Generale, said at the current pace unemployment could be 7% in January. That would put Carney under pressure to reconsider the threshold in March when the figures are announced.
BAE Systems' Eurofighter Typhoon factories could run out of work in five years after the Unite Arab Emirates announced BAE had failed to get the contract to supply it with 60 jets, the Sunday Times reported. Industry sources told the paper that BAE's assembly plant at Warton, Lancashire, could close without new orders. More than 5,000 jobs at the arms company's Lancashire factories are under threat after the UAE opted not to buy the jets.
ITV and the BBC will join forces in 2014 to call for BSkyB and Virgin Media to pay to carry their channels, the Sunday Telegraph said. Public service broadcasters will lobby for the pending Intellectual Property Bill to reverse current rules that require them to pay "retransmission fees" to appear on satellite challenges and to provide programmes free on cable TV. ITV could add £100m to its revenues with little extra cost if it is successful, analysts have said.
Britain could be the fastest-growing developed economy in 2014, a year when advanced economies will get their "mojo" back, a PwC economist told the Sunday Telegraph. Richard Boxshall told the paper Britain's economy could grow by up to 3% next year, putting the country in contention with the US to be the strongest-growing advanced economy. Developed economies will contribute about 40% of global GDP growth for the first time since 2010 next year, PwC predicted.
Marks & Spencer is likely to open its first store in Australia next year in a new battlefront between big clothes chains, the Mail on Sunday reported. The branch is set to open in Sydney after a UK Christmas trading period that may have been lacklustre for M&S. Overseas expansion is high on M&S's agenda but a spokesman declined to comment about Australia.
Formula 1 motor racing could be floated in the new year, the Mail on Sunday said. CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm and one of F1's biggest shareholders, had shelved a sale while it was trying to buy IMG, the sports marketing company. After missing out on the synergies between F1 and IMG last week, CVC could now opt for a sale of its 35% stake or an IPO in April or May. A flotation would most likely take place in Singapore.