BANKS WATCH BARCLAYS’ COCO PLANS
Big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are weighing whether to follow Barclays as it pushes ahead with a plan to pay bonuses with innovative bonds, dubbed cocos. According to several banks present at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, the idea of using contingent convertible notes as a remuneration tool is gaining ground. Pending regulatory approval, Barclays aims to unveil the coco bonus plan next month.
TREASURY SEES RED OVER GREEN BANK
Chris Huhne is at loggerheads with the Treasury over the size and scope of the green investment bank, as officials seek to thwart his attempts to ensure it operates as a fully fledged bank. The Treasury has already earmarked £1bn for the bank, to be spent on green infrastructure projects such as renewable energy.
SIMPLIFY VISAS FOR CHINESE
Luxury retailers are pressing the government to tackle visa bottlenecks for Chinese tourists, claiming bureaucracy is causing shoppers to shun London stores in favour of centres such as Paris and Milan. Retail spending in the UK from Chinese visitors topped £350m last year, according to Global Blue, a financial services company, but retailers including Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason argue this could be far higher if the UK visa process was simplified.
MERCK UNVEILS SHAKE-UP
Merck, the German pharmaceuticals company, is considering the sale of its consumer health business and has started overhauling its approach to clinical drug development as part of a shake-up designed to boost its flagging share price. Karl-Ludwig Kley, chairman of the executive board, signalled the changes as his reshuffled executive team begins work on a “road map” to improve performance.
DESMOND REVIVES ENDEMOL DEAL
Big Brother is expected to return to British TV screens this summer after Endemol, the reality show’s owner, restarted talks with Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond over a new broadcasting deal. Endemol is keen to strike a deal because its investors, led by Goldman Sachs, face a battle to retain control of the company. A group of American hedge funds, including Apollo Management and Avenue Capital, have secretly bought up close to 40 per cent of its debts.
BEER CHIEFS TO SHARE OUT £730M
Executives at Inbev, the beer giant behind Budweiser, are set to share an extraordinary €850m (£730m) payday. The potential windfall comes from an incentive scheme that the board introduced when Inbev, the brewer behind Stella Artois, bought Anheuser Busch in 2008.
The Daily Telegraph
CIRQUE MAY LEAP FOR NEW PARTNER
Cirque du Soleil, the modern circus troupe which has transformed the way the once old-fashioned theatrical event is viewed, would be willing to sell a further 10 per cent equity stake to a strategic partner, founder Guy Laliberté has admitted. In 2008, Dubai-based private equity investor Istithmar World Capital and real estate developer Nakheel bought a 20 per cent stake in Cirque from Laliberté for an estimated $500m (£315m).
SFO HAS £2M TO ENFORCE BRIBERY ACT
The Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) ability to enforce the new Bribery Act has been questioned after it emerged that the agency will have just £2m a year to enforce the pending legislation. The amount of funding will raise questions about how effective the legislation will be in catching and deterring corruption.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
BORDERS DELAYS JAN PAYMENTS
Cash-strapped Borders Group said that it will delay January payments to vendors, landlords and others, as indications grow that the bookseller could be headed for bankruptcy court. The number two US bookstore chain said the move was intended to preserve liquidity as it works to restructure its finances. The company said it “understands the impact of its decision on the affected parties,” but wants to work with creditors and others to bolster its prospects.
GENERICS EYE BIOLOGICS
Generic drug makers are expecting copies of biological drugs to become a multibillion dollar market in the near future. But a lack of clear regulation and the high cost of research may damp their prospects.