WEST COAST RAIL FACES RETURN TO STATE HANDS
Britain’s most profitable train franchise could be taken back into state hands following a government decision to delay the auction of the West Coast service amid an overhaul of the rail system. Virgin Trains is due to hand back the contract to run the lucrative London to Glasgow route in May 2012. But although the government has announced a four-strong shortlist of bidders for the franchise, it has postponed the start of the contract until January 2013.
EQT CUTS FEES AS IT TARGETS €6BN FUND
EQT is offering investors a large “early bird” discount for one of the biggest European buy-out funds since the financial crisis, in a sign of how private equity groups are going to greater lengths to attract further capital. The private equity group, which is part-owned by Sweden’s Wallenberg family, is targeting the first close of a €4.25bn ($6.05bn) fund before July, several people close to the situation told the Financial Times.
FOOTBALLER SEEKS SEARCH ORDER ON JOURNALISTS
A footballer has asked the UK High Court for an order to search e-mails and text messages of journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers in an unprecedented effort to see whether they breached the terms of a so-called super-injunction concerning an alleged affair with a reality TV star. The application, which the court has not yet ruled on, is likely to send a chill through media organisations at a time of intense debate over privacy law and the efficacy of super-injunctions. Last week, a Twitter user named several celebrities who have reportedly taken out super-injunctions.
SAATCHI SHARES PLAN WOULD COST CITY £1BN
The City will miss out on £1bn of fees if the Government agrees bank privatisation as recommended yesterday by Lord Saatchi and other influential Conservatives. The Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, chaired by the Tory peer, has urged the coalition to shun a normal sale of its shares in RBS and Lloyds and instead give them to every taxpayer in the country. The novel approach would bypass the investment banks.
BE AT ONE IS SEEKING ORDERS FROM INVESTORS
Three former TGI Friday’s bartenders have appointed advisers to seek private equity backing for a rollout of their chain of London cocktail bars. Be At One, which has ten bars in the capital, wants to double its number of sites in London.
The Daily Telegraph
TATE & LYLE IN ETHANOL LEGAL DISPUTE
Tate & Lyle, the UK ingredients business, is embroiled in a £100m-plus legal row in the US courts following a contract dispute with a British supplier. The FTSE 250 company sued London-based Whitefox Technologies which in turn launched its own £100m counter-claim. The legal battle could be heard in the US courts later this year presuming the two parties cannot reach an earlier settlement.
RUSSIAN POLICE ESCALATE CASE AGAINST WILLIAM BROWDER
Lawyers for William Browder, chief executive of UK-based hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management, yesterday strongly attacked Russian police for the “flagrant misuse of the criminal justice system” in attempting to summon him to Moscow for questioning.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
HEDGE FUND BOOSTS STAKE IN EL PASO
Hedge fund Jana Partners LLC said it expanded its stake in El Paso Corp. to just over 4 per cent, in what many viewed as an effort to help force the natural-gas provider to break up. Investors have been pressuring El Paso, which operates disparate divisions including exploration and pipelines, to sell parts of its business. Management has said it would consider restructuring.
WAL-MART BALKS AT HURDLE TO DEAL
In the latest obstacle to a deal, Wal-Mart Stores yesterday threatened to walk away from a proposed $2.4 billion merger with South African retailer Massmart Holdings if procurement conditions are imposed after recommendations by the country’s competition commission.