SFO TARGETS CRIMINAL COMPANY DIVIDENDS
The UK’s fraud investigator intends to confiscate shareholder dividends paid by companies convicted of criminal offences, after it won approval for a landmark court action. The Serious Fraud Office won a civil recovery order yesterday against the principal shareholder of a company that had admitted corruption.
GROUPAMA TO SELL BROKERAGE AND UK ARM
Groupama has put its brokerage operations and UK business up for sale as the troubled French insurer seeks to shore up its capital position. Staff at Gan Eurocourtage, one of France’s biggest insurance brokers, and the company’s UK division were told about the planned disposals yesterday. The businesses employ a total of 2,610 people.
NICOLE FARHI TO EXPAND
Luxury fashion group Nicole Farhi is measuring up for expansion, following the acquisition of a majority stake in the business by private equity group Kelso Place Asset Management. The investor, which will retain Nicole Farhi as creative director and Niki Scordi as chief executive, aims to invest £15m in the next five years.
BANESTO PROFITS FALL AMID ‘DIFFICULT’ CONDITIONS
Banesto, the Spanish domestic bank controlled by Santander, fell into loss in the final quarter of last year after setting aside a special bad loan provision of €400m, and said its net profit in 2011 as a whole fell 73 per cent from the previous year amid “difficult” business conditions. “Economic weakness was persistent throughout the year, and in the second half new uncertainties gave rise to a scenario of high tensions and great volatility in the markets,” Banesto said.
GENERATION RENT FINDS THE WALL GETS EVER HIGHER
The value of British homes has reached £4.3 trillion, but housing equity is so concentrated among the older generation in the South East that more young people could be locked out of home ownership. Research from the estate agency Savills, published today, shows that the value of the country’s housing stock has risen by 6.4 per cent over the past five years.
PSION SLASHES COSTS TO LIMIT £4M DAMAGE FROM RECALL
Psion has clawed its way back into the black despite problems with its touchscreens that left a £4m hole in its profits last year. The computer maker, one of the biggest names in British technology, said that it would break even for last year after reducing costs by £4m to make up for the shortfall.
The Daily Telegraph
AMERICAN AIRLINES SIZED UP BY DELTA AND TPG
Delta Air Lines and private equity giant TPG Capital are reportedly considering separate bids for bankrupt American Airlines parent company AMR. Delta is said to have hired Blackstone Group – which helped with Delta's bankruptcy process in 2005 – to help it assess a potential bid, while TPG is expected to look for a strategic partner for any deal.
GENERAL MOTORS MAY MOVE KOREAN WORK TO EUROPE
General Motors is understood to be considering shifting car production from South Korea to Europe as part of plans to revitalise its struggling Opel and Vauxhall arm. Dan Akerson, chief executive, warned at the Detroit motor show this week that the company’s losses in Europe are “not a tenable situation”.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
PEPSICO BOARD STANDS BY NOOYI
A strategic review at PepsiCo is more likely to result in a renewed marketing push for its core soft drinks business—and sharp cost reductions to pay for it—rather than a rebuke of chief executive Indra Nooyi or any drastic move such as a Kraft-style breakup.
SPAIN GROUNDS PLAN FOR AIRPORT PRIVATISATION
Spain’s ambitious airport privatization plan is grounded, with the new government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reconsidering its sale options as bidders fret about the cost of borrowing to buy assets deemed to be too expensive. People familiar with the situation say several bidders are increasingly skeptical about the valuations and conditions set by the previous Socialist government. It hoped to raise about €3.7bn.