Vodafone is considering acquisitions in India, the Financial Times reported. The UK mobile giant sees itself as a "natural consolidator" in India once changes to merger rules allow consolidation in the country's telecoms market, Vodafone's Indie Chief Executive Marten Pieters, told the paper. Pieters also said he would work on plans for an eventual initial public offering in India, despite changes allowing Vodafone to buy out its Indian minority investors. Pieters made his comments as investors expect Vodafone to look for growth in emerging markets after agreeing to sell its stake in Verizon Wireless.
A commercial rival to Royal Mail is challenging the 20% VAT exemption the company gets as the "universal provider" of postal services ahead of its planned flotation, the Sunday Telegraph reported. TNT Post UK will go to the High Court on November 26th seeking to challenge the exemption in the European courts. Victory for TNT would see VAT applied to Royal Mail's profitable bulk mail contracts. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that Royal Mail has told employees they will get a tax break on their free shares
from the flotation if they keep them for more than five years,. Royal Mail is trying to avert a strike threatened for the time of the share offering.
BAE Systems faces pressure from the Government to take more responsibility for the rising costs of a £5.3bn contract to build two aircraft carriers, the Sunday Times said. The Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office also want to alter a deal that gives BAE a monopoly on military shipbuilding. The original estimate to build the carriers was £3.6bn in 2008 but it has jumped to almost £5.3bn, the paper said.
An investor revolt is on the cards at Diageo's annual meeting over an £18.2m pay deal for former Chief Executive Paul Walsh, the Mail on Sunday said. Shareholder advisory firm Manifest has accused the Guinness maker of "excessive" pay for executives. Manifest told the paper some investors were likely to vote against the remuneration report which it said had executive incentives that were not testing enough.
Dixons is considering adding a local electrician and repairs service after revamping its stores, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Dixons' Chief Executive Sebastian James said: "We have trump cards we haven't played yet. I have an electrician in most postcodes most days. What more could we do?" Currently, customers who damage devices often have to send them back to the manufacturer for repair. The service expansion is one of the options James is considering for the electricals retailer after he disposing of his troublesome Pixmania internet business and Turkish arm.
Inflation is likely to have eased in August, the Sunday Times and the Telegraph reported. City analysts expect the pace of price rises to have fallen to 2.7% from 2.8% after petrol price pressure slackened off, the Telegraph said. The figures, released on September 17th, could help ease fears that inflation will run out of control if the Bank of England keeps interest rates low.
A leading economist has warned a crash in London's booming housing market could knock Britain's economic recovery off track, the Mail on Sunday reported. Paul Ballew, global chief economist for credit-rating group Dun & Bradstreet, told the paper: "A London crash could stall the economy. It's a big enough asset class to matter. The ripple effects of a key sector go throughout the economy in so many ways." Separately, the Sunday Times reported that the Sultan of Brunei has secretly bought up most of West London's Queensway thoroughfare in a bid to create a trophy estate. Brunei's royal family has bought about three-quarters of the property on the road.
AIM-listed IGas Energy is in talks with major landowners and industrial firms in Lancashire and Cheshire about drilling access and gas supply deals, the Sunday Telegraph said. Andrew Austin, Chief Executive of the shale gas explorer, told the paper he expected to agree deals "over the next few months". IGas said there could be as much as 172trn cubic feet of shale gas beneath its exploration licences, but it needs to get permission from landowners before it can drill new sites. Austin said there were lots of businesses in the North West that were keen for shale drilling to take place.
Asos is expected to say that fourth-quarter sales jumped 43% to £208m when it updates investors on September 19th, the Sunday Express said, citing analysts. Simon French, retail analyst at Panmure Gordon, said: "We anticipate another strong performance driven by penetration of international markets and market-share gains in the UK. We forecast international sales up 52% and UK sales up 32%.
Metro Bank's board is due to consider an initial public offering (IPO) for the bank next summer, the Sunday Express said. The challenger bank's directors will make the decision at a meeting in September 2013. If they decide against a 2014 IPO they will aim for one in 2016. The Greater London-focused bank launched in 2010 to take on the big high street big lenders and is about to open its 20th branch. A flotation in 2014 would value the bank at hundreds of millions of pounds, the Express said.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has warned that extreme credit excess has reached or passed global levels that existed before the Lehman crisis five years ago, the Telegraph reported. The central banks' bank said investors' move into high-risk instruments was "a phenomenon reminiscent of exuberance prior to the global financial crisis". BIS said in its quarterly review that riskier subordinated debt had jumped more than threefold in Europe and tenfold in the US in the last year and that leveraged loans' share of the syndicated loan market had hit a record.
A group of Co-operative Bank bondholders has accused it of overstating its losses to force through a bail-out deal that makes bondholders accept a loss, the Sunday Times said. Some rebel bondholders have raised questions about write-offs totalling £379m taken in last month's first-half results. They have questioned why a £150m IT system was deemed worthless, among other objections. The bondholders have written to the Bank's Chairman Richard Pym.