Balfour Beatty could be broken up as John Laing Infrastructure Fund considers a billion-pound bid for the company's investment arm, the Sunday Times reported. John Laing is interested in bidding for Balfour's 60 private finance initiative (PFI) contracts. It would leave Balfour with a business worth about £260m, based on its current market value. John Laing's interest might tempt Carillion to make another takeover attempt for Balfour after being rebuffed earlier in 2014.
Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and its Canadian bid partner could scrap their attempted takeover of Canary Wharf after the property company's owner, Songbird Estates, said the value of the financial district had risen by almost 20% in five months, the Sunday Times said. Takeover rules mean Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Brookfield Property Partners have until December 4th to make a successful offer for Canary Wharf. City sources told the paper QIA was likely to withdraw.
Vodafone is close to buying Tesco's loss-making entertainment service Blinkbox to accelerate the mobile phone operator's move into pay-TV, the Sunday Telegraph said. Other parties have withdrawn from bidding for the on-demand service now that Vodafone and Tesco are in detailed talks. Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis put Blinkbox up for sale because it was a distraction from sorting out the supermarket's core business.
Barclays will launch a video service for affluent customers on December 8th, making it the first bank in Europe to offer a full mobile video operation. Steven Cooper, Chief Executive of personal banking at Barclays, told the Financial Times the bank had invested tens of millions of pounds in the service. There has been a sharp drop in customers visiting bank branches as more transactions are carried out digitally and Barclays' innovation could raise fears of more UK branch closures.
Harriet Green's abrupt departure as Chief Executive of Thomas Cook was caused partly by tension between her and Chairman Frank Meysman, according to the Financial Times. Green was primed to present full-year results on November 26th but was ousted at a board meeting two days before. Green's high profile and her wish for Meysman to stick to his chairmanship duties were among the sources of tension, the FT alleged. Industry sources told the paper Thomas Cook was not doing as well as it thinks.
AFC Energy, whose biggest shareholder is Roman Abramovich, will unveil Adam Bond as its new Chief Executive on December 1st, the Sunday Telegraph reported. He will be responsible for making the company's clean fuel cell technology commercially successful, focusing on the US market.
The Office for Budget Responsibility is expected to increase its forecast for economic growth to 3% from 2.7%, the Sunday Telegraph said. The figure, if announced, will indicate Britain's strongest growth since 2006 but there will be no big giveaways at the Chancellor's autumn statement on December 3rd, economists said.
The boss of the Co-operative Group's food business has warned that there is a new "space race" among grocers to snap up the best sites for convenience stores, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Morrisons is paying a lot to secure sites for convenience stores. "It is a very hot market," Murrells said. "If you take the run-rate at the moment and project that through, we think we have got the best part of three to five years to get the best sites." The Co-op had lost its way but is now performing better than the big four grocers on like-for-like sales, Steve Murrell told the paper.
AstraZeneca's chief executive has told the Sunday Telegraph that tax inversion deals have not gone away despite a US clampdown on the tactic. Pascal Soriot, who rebuffed a £69bn inversion-based takeover from Pfizer, said inversion deals could happen in the UK if US tax office guidelines were respected. Pfizer tried to buy AstraZeneca partly to take advantage of the UK's lower tax rate. Pfizer is free to make another approach for AstraZeneca after the expiry of a six-month block but sources have said the idea is now dead.
Mulberry is expected to record a £1m loss for the first half after losing its creative spark, the Sunday Times said. Barclays analysts forecast Mulberry would swing to the loss from a £7.2m profit a year earlier following a series of profit warnings. The analysts expect a £4m full-year profit, boosted by Christmas trading.
Investors in a London-listed retail bond have been hit by the falling price of oil, the Sunday Times reported. The bond was issued by EnQuest, a FTSE 250 North Sea oil producer two years ago and traded above its 100p issue price for most of its life, hitting 105p in March. But in the past week the price was fallen, reaching 68.75p. Sources close to EnQuest told the paper risks were explained in the bond's prospectus. Analysts said there was little danger of the company failing.
Sophos, the computer security developer, is targeting a London float. The Sunday Times said it was planning a listing in 2015 that could value the company at £1bn. The private equity-owned company is close to appointing an independent adviser for the listing, planned for the first half of 2015.
Teddy Sagi, the Israeli billionaire behind Camden Market, is in talks to take the London tourist spot public with a valuation of £675m, according to the Sunday Times. Sagi plans to float at least 10% of Camden and intends to keep control of most of the business, which is trading strongly.