AbbVie is expected to make an improved offer for Shire in the next few days after its Chief Executive Rick Gonzalez visited Shire's biggest investors in London, The Sunday Times said. Gonzalez is back in the US mulling his options after having three bid approaches turned down with the most recent valuing Shire at £27bn. Some observers say the US company will have to offer at least £50 a share to get Shire talking, improving on the £46.11 approach it made at the end of May.
AbbVie's Gonzalez told investors on his trip to London that he needed more detail on Shire's target to double revenues by 2020 before considering a higher offer, according to The Sunday Telegraph. But Shire is reluctant to hand over more information in case it sets a precedent for other potential suitors. Richard Marwood, a fund manager at Axa, said an improved bid approach was "still possible".
Large shareholders in Mothercare have backed the chain's rejection of a £270m takeover approach from Destination Maternity of the US, The Sunday Telegraph reported. Fidelity and Allianz own more than a fifth of Mothercare's shares
and have dismissed Destination's approaches as "opportunistic" and "inadequate". "We would prefer the business to continue... on a standalone basis," Paras Anand, Head of Equities at Fidelity, told the paper. Simon Gergel at Allianz said he was not interested in the bid and that it was "well below the true value of the company".
BlackRock has banned its London office from lending out its shares after a short-selling attack on Blinkx, an online advertising company in which BlackRock is the biggest shareholder, The Sunday Telegraph said. In January, Blinkx lost a third of its value in one day when a Harvard Business School professor posted a blog expressing "grave doubts" about its business. Blinkx denied his allegations and the professor was accused of acting as part of a "bear raid" in which short sellers try to force shares lower. At the time, BlackRock was letting its back office lend some of Blinkx stock to short sellers but it has changed its policy.
Sir Mike Rake has withdrawn from the running to be Chairman of Barclays, The Sunday Times said. Rake, who is the bank's Deputy Chairman, is also Chairman of BT and has told Barclays the job would not leave him time for his other jobs. Barclays is looking for a replacement for Sir David Walker who took over almost two years ago and said he would serve for three years. Some institutional investors want an external appointment as the next chairman.
Britain's big energy companies are heading for a confrontation with Ofgem, their regulator, over a gap of hundreds of millions of pounds between conflicting estimates of amounts to be refunded to customers, The Mail on Sunday said. Ofgem has said the firms, including Centrica and SSE, hold at least £202m belonging to households in dormant accounts and £204m from business customers bit industry sources claim the real figure is less than £250m.
Burberry faces an investor revolt over the £20m retention deal handed to Christopher Bailey, its creative director who became Chief Executive in May, The Sunday Times reported. The Investment Management Association has given an "amber top" rating to Burberry's pay policies before the company's annual meeting on July 11th. Under contracts agreed before Bailey replaced Angela Ahrendts at Burberry, Bailey will get 1.35m shares within four years no matter how the company performs.
The whistleblower on the bribery scandal at GlaxoSmithKline was at first told to contact a local compliance officer in China, The Sunday Times said. PwC, Glaxo's auditor, initially said the 11 pages of allegations were "likely just spam or phishing", an email that circulated at the accountant's London office said. Glaxo's handling of the matter is being examined as the Serious Fraud Office and regulators scrutinise governance at the UK's biggest drug company. Glaxo said it was following a standard procedure when it referred the whistleblower to the local officer in China.
The Financial Conduct Authority is considering investigating advisers on flotations because of complaints they are bending the rules, according to The Sunday Times. Big investment banks have contacted the FCA about the advisers, which help companies choose banks to handle floats. The complaints focus on interviews of research analysts in which it is alleged the advisers try to shape the analysts' views. Interviewing analysts is not against the rules. Banks whose analysts have positive views on the float company are often those chosen as well. The three main float advisers are STJ Advisors, Lazard and Rothschild.
Amaya Gaming is considering plans for a multibillion-pound London listing after agreeing to buy PokerStars for $4.9bn, The Sunday Times said. The Canadian online gambling company trades on the Toronto stock exchange and is deciding whether to have a secondary listing in New York or London. Chief Executive David Baazov said no decision between the two cities had been made.
The head of the British Bankers' Association has said the era of the traditional high street branch is over. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Anthony Browne said hankering after a return to branch-based banking was "out of kilter with what millions of customers want" as digital banking takes off. Branch numbers will continue to fall as in-branch transactions fall 10% each year, though they are unlikely to disappear altogether because some customers do not like technology, Browne said.
The Chief Executive of Michelmersh, Britain's biggest brickmaker, has warned that brick stocks are at their lowest in living memory. Martin Warner told The Sunday Telegraph: "Every brick we can make is being sold straight away. I am seeing the lowest brick stocks in living memory across the UK." He added that brick prices were starting to rise after five years of stagnation. The shortage could constrain housebuilding or increase housebuilders' costs.
Unrest over pay at FirstGroup is increasing as three investor advisory groups highlight concerns over Chief Executive Tim O'Toole's remuneration for last year, The Sunday Telegraph said. IVIS, which used to be run by the Association of British Insurers, has given the transport group an "amber top" warning while Pirc has advised shareholders to vote against the pay policy at FirstGroup's annual meeting on July 16th. ISS, the US governance consultancy, has recommended voting in favour but has said it is "not without concern".
Laura Wade-Gery's promotion to head all of Marks & Spencer's UK stores as well as its online operation has started speculation that she is being lined up to replace Chief Executive Marc Bolland at the helm of the retailer, the Financial Times said. Some were surprised at the kick-boxing enthusiast's promotion because M&S had recently had trouble at its new website, which she oversaw. She will also be up against rivals for the top job when succession comes around.