SHAREHOLDER ACTIVISM RISING IN US
Activism by prominent shareholders is on the rise in the US, as beaten-down share prices and a renewed focus on streamlining companies give investors an opportunity to push for change at large companies. In the first three quarters of the year, there was a 90 per cent rise in the number of companies worth more than $1bn targeted by activist shareholders, according to analysis by JPMorgan’s investment bank.
CLEAR CHANNEL TO BRING NEW SCREENS TO LONDON
Clear Channel Outdoor is bringing a new wave of interactive billboards to London, installing 100 roadside digital screens with “near-field communication” capabilities in the coming weeks. The UK rollout will include sites in Oxford Street, King’s Cross and Islington’s Upper Street.
CAUDWELL BUYS MAYFAIR CAR PARK FOR £150M
John Caudwell, the entrepreneur and founder of Phones 4U, is set to pay Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency close to £150m for the UK’s most valuable car park. The deal, which ends years of speculation over who would buy one of Nama’s most coveted assets, is expected to close at the end of this month and is likely to result in the Mayfair site being rebuilt as an upmarket residential development.
ALCATEL IN DEAL TO SELL ITS CALL CENTRE BUSINESS
Alcatel-Lucent, the Franco-American communications equipment maker, has agreed to sell its corporate call centre services business for as much as $1.5bn to Permira, the private equity group. The deal was rumoured to have floundered last month over finance issues. Private equity buy-outs have been hampered in recent months by market turbulence.
BAD GUYS WILL PROSPER FROM NEW COMPULSORY STAFF PENSIONS
Proposals to introduce compulsory workplace pensions contain little protection for employees and could lead to widespread mis-selling, a prominent critic has suggested. Renowned fund manager David Pitt-Watson said that the government’s plans could leave consumers unprotected and without the information they need.
INFLATION PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON BUILDERS AS CUSTOMERS SIT TIGHT
Builders face rampant price inflation when buying and hiring goods and equipment, new figures reveal. Travis Perkins said in a trading update that “high product inflation” was keeping revenues growing. While the wider market was generally “in slight decline”, the soaring cost of what it was selling had seen like-for-like per trading day revenues leap 9.6 per cent.
The Daily Telegraph
MARIO DRAGHI FEARS ITALIAN DEBT SPIRAL
Italy risks a debt spiral without “drastic” steps to cut spending and restore confidence in public finances, the country’s central bank governor has warned. “We must act fast. The sorts of interest rate rises seen over the last three months, if protracted, could lead to an uncontrollable spiral,” said Mario Draghi, who takes over as head of the ECB next month.
EX-POLICE OFFICER ADMITS £300M VAT FRAUD
A former police officer has admitted a £300 million VAT fraud believed to be the biggest in UK history. Nigel Cranswick, 47, was a director of Ideas 2 Go (I2G), which he ran from a small office in a Sheffield business park, and claimed to have bought and sold at least £2bn of goods in just eight months.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
CHINA TO SUPPORT SMALL FIRMS
China’s State Council, or cabinet, yesterday unveiled a package of measures including tax breaks and lending preferences to support small companies. The move comes as China’s smaller companies have had difficulty accessing credit from the state-dominated banking system, leading to increasing distress in areas such as the private-sector hub city of Wenzhou in eastern China.
EU PROPOSES CAP ON FARM SUBSIDIES
Officials have kicked off what promises to be more than a year of bitter wrangling over how to revise its $75bn a year program to aid Europe’s farmers. The European Commission yesterday released its proposals to limit subsidies for big farms and oblige them to set aside more land for preservation, as part of an effort to rein in spending.