Sir John Peace will suffer his third shareholder rebellion in three months this week when investors in Experian revolt over pay and succession plans at the credit checking company, the Sunday Times said. Peace will then have suffered rebellions at each of the three FTSE 100 companies he chairs. At Burberry last week, almost 53% of shareholders voted against a big payday for the new Chief Executive, Christopher Bailey. In May, Standard Chartered shareholders also rebelled over pay at the bank. Peace is standing down as Experian Chairman partly in response to investor unhappiness at him chairing three FTSE 100 companies. A big shareholder told the paper he should consider leaving either Burberry or Standard Chartered.
Sports Direct will open three stores in Australia and one in New Zealand in a joint venture with MySale, the Australian online retailer, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The UK retailer will also open Australian and New Zealand websites. Details of the deal could be announced as soon as Monday July 14th. Sports Direct bought a 4.8% stake in MySale when the internet retailer floated on London's AIM market last month. The websites are likely to launch later this year.
Investors are on alert for an improved bid approach from AbbVie for Shire after board members of the UK-listed drugs company met representatives from its suitor, the Sunday Times reported. AbbVie's approach last week valued Shire at £30bn but a fall in the US company's share price reduced the value of the offer. Shire is holding out for a £31bn approach before letting AbbVie look at its books. A deal could be worked out quite quickly if AbbVie can bridge the gap.
The board of First Group has rejected an activist investor's call for the transport group to be broken up. The Sunday Telegraph said the board had written to Sandell Asset Management to say it did not agree with the US firm's proposal to sell off First Group's US business as part of a carve-up plan. Sources told the paper the company's turnaround was beginning to work. First Group faces shareholder unrest at its annual meeting on July 16th over Chief Executive Tim O'Toole's pay.
AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and international rivals are working on plans to cash in on their older, off-patent drugs, the Sunday Telegraph reported. The companies are working with investment banks and have started sounding out potential buyers as patents run out on big-selling drugs and face competition from generic rivals. Private equity buyers could be interested in the drugs, which are highly cash generative.
Mothercare's Chief Executive has ordered a 100-day review of the baby products retailer as it attempts to beat off a takeover approach from Destination Maternity of the US. The Sunday Times said Mark Newton-Jones, appointed as Mothercare's permanent boss after a stint as interim chief, wants to cut costs, get better deals from suppliers, secure more exclusive products and make further reductions in store numbers.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, will widen the "national interest test" on foreign takeovers of UK companies to protect leading businesses from overseas raiders, the Sunday Times reported. He told the paper he was prepared to change the law to give ministers more power to say no to foreign suitors by protecting the UK's "critical infrastructure". Ministers could also veto a deal if they doubt "the motives" of the bidder. He also proposes forcing foreign bidders to make legally binding commitments on keeping plants and jobs in the UK.
PwC's UK Chairman has said takeovers based on foreign companies buying a British one to gain access to the UK's lower corporate tax rate should be welcomed. Ian Powell said a low corporate tax rate was "one of the huge strengths of the UK", the Sunday Telegraph reported. Also speaking at the accountant's annual board breakfast, PwC's Head of Tax, Kevin Nicholson, said PwC was advising about 100 clients considering moving to the UK for tax reasons and that of those, 10% to 15% involved a merger or takeover.
British American Tobacco is expected to pay £1.5bn this week to maintain its 42% stake in Reynolds when the company merges with its US rival Lorillard, according to the Sunday Times. BAT said on July 11th that it would seek to maintain its holding in the combined company. An analyst at the investment bank Jefferies said in a note that doing so would cost BAT £1.5bn. BAT did not say how it would fund the purchase but the paper said it should have no trouble coming up with the funds.
The Financial Conduct Authority will this week impose restrictions on the rates of interest that payday lenders can charge, the Sunday Telegraph reported. After a consultation, a cap will be imposed by the start of 2015. One source told the paper that total borrowing costs, including interest and arrangement fees, would probably be set at a maximum of 30% of the amount borrowed. Others said the FCA would set out a range of options in its consultation paper.
The Bank of England has called for international regulators to loosen capital rules for smaller banks because the regulations now give big lenders an advantage and restrict lending to support the economy, the Sunday Telegraph said. Standardised "risk weights" attached to particular types of loan require smaller banks to hold more capital against them. Martin Stewart, who heads the Prudential Regulation Authority's banks and mutual division, told a conference recently that there was a "body of evidence" that risk weights for small banks were too conservative.
Lloyds Banking Group's private equity arm is in line to cash in on the flotation of a comparison website for homebuyers and mortgage brokers. The Sunday Times said ULS Technology is working on a possible AIM listing, valuing it at up to £50m. Lloyds owns 38% of the business.
The number of properties for sale in the UK is still in a slump despite soaring house prices and rising profits for builders and estate agents, the Mail on Sunday reported. The National Association of Estate Agents will say this week that, despite a small rise, properties for sale remain at half the number for 2008. The lack of supply is one of the reasons prices are rising so strongly. The rise in June was not enough to reverse months of decline before then.