Chief Correspondent, UK Company News, London
Paul's Feed
Dec 7, 2009

Shanks seeks $1 billion after Carlyle approach

LONDON (Reuters) – British waste management firm Shanks Group Plc revealed a 536 million pound ($889 million) buyout approach, sending its shares soaring, but said its board and key shareholders were looking for at least 10 percent more.

Shanks <SKS.L did not name the company behind the approach but a person familiar with the matter said it was the Carlyle Group, the well-connected U.S. investor that is one of the world’s biggest private equity firms.

Dec 3, 2009

UK moves to calm fears of RBS walkout over bonuses

LONDON, Dec 3 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown moved to allay fears of a mass walk out by the board of
Royal Bank of Scotland <RBS.L>, saying it would not be singled
out for unduly harsh treatment over bonuses.

In a rare move by politicians to calm the global backlash
against big payouts to bankers, Brown said nobody was being
“discriminated against” while his business secretary Peter
Mandelson said he understood the concerns of RBS directors.
Their comments followed a Wall Street Journal report that
Goldman Sachs <GS.N> is meeting investors in an effort to head
off anger over planned bonuses that will put employees on track
to earn an average of $700,000 each this year. [ID:nN0258740]

Nov 18, 2009

Turnaround specialist Archie Norman to chair ITV

LONDON, Nov 18 (Reuters) – ITV Plc <ITV.L>, Britain’s
biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, has turned to Archie
Norman, a turnaround specialist and former Conservative
politician, to end its error-strewn seven-month hunt for
leadership.

Norman, known for turning around supermarket chain Asda and
telecoms business Energis before selling both, but who has
little or no direct experience of the TV industry, will take up
the position of non-executive chairman in January. [ID:nLI97485]

Oct 19, 2009

Stagecoach deal doubts cap National Express gains

LONDON (Reuters) – British bus and rail operator Stagecoach’s <SGC.L> proposed takeover boosted shares in rival National Express <NEX.L> but gains were capped by fears that regulatory hurdles and debt deadlines could scupper a deal. Analysts said a tie-up would make a lot of sense for debt laden National Express and help Stagecoach’s earnings but some suggested National Express might instead have to push ahead with a capital hike given pressure on its balance sheet.

National Express said on Sunday that Stagecoach had made a “highly preliminary” approach, proposing an all-share deal in which National Express shareholders would own no more than 40 percent of the combined group.

Oct 19, 2009

Media Corp surges as Google lifts search penalty

LONDON (Reuters) – UK Internet advertising firm Media Corp said Google Inc had lifted a penalty that hurt its rankings in Internet search results, adding the move could boost its 2010 pretax profit by 1 million pounds ($1.6 million).

Shares in the company were up 25 percent to 3 pence by 1205 GMT (8:05 a.m. EDT) on Monday, having earlier been up as much as 37 percent, meaning the stock has trebled over the last week.

Oct 16, 2009

National Express falls after Cosmen says no deal

LONDON (Reuters) – A consortium led by Spain’s Cosmen family has walked away from National Express <NEX.L>, deciding not to mount a takeover bid after spending a month poring over the British bus and train operator’s books.

National Express shares by over a quarter, as months of takeover speculation drained out of the stock and investors fretted over what had spooked the prospective bidders.

Oct 16, 2009

Cosmen consortium says no offer for Natl Express

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) – A consortium led by Spain’s
Cosmen family has decided against making a takeover offer for
National Express <NEX.L> after spending a month poring over the
British bus and train operator’s books.

National Express said on Friday , however, that the Cosmen
family had decided to support a proposed equity fundraising.

Oct 15, 2009

Lloyds must show better deal for taxpayer-source

LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Part-nationalised British bank
Lloyds <LLOY.L> needs a deal that is “demonstrably” better for
taxpayers than a proposed asset insurance plan to get government
backing for it, a person familiar with the matter said.

With global markets on the up, Lloyds, 43 percent owned by
Britain, is considering an exit from a costly government-backed
asset protection scheme (APS) to insure 260 billion pounds ($422
billion) of the bank’s assets against losses from bad debts.

Oct 13, 2009

ITV bond buys time as advertising slump eases

LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – ITV <ITV.L> raised 135 million
pounds ($213 million) in a convertible bond issue on Tuesday to
relieve the burden of looming debt repayment deadlines and said
the advertising downturn was easing, lifting its shares as much
as 9 percent.

Britain’s biggest commercial free-to-air broadcaster,
struggling to find a new chairman and chief executive, also
moved to plug a gaping hole in its pension fund and reiterated
it had no plans raise money by directly issuing new shares.

Oct 12, 2009

ITV leadership search hits new hurdle

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – ITV <ITV.L> said two contenders
to succeed Michael Grade as chairman of Britain’s biggest
free-to-air commercial broadcaster had ruled themselves out,
dealing a fresh blow to its long search for new leadership.
ITV also said on Monday that chief operating officer John
Cresswell had to be interim chief executive but planned to leave
the company once a permanent CEO had been found.

ITV, facing the worst advertising downturn for decades, has
been searching for a new chief executive since May when Grade,
then executive chairman, announced he would step back from the
day-to-day running of the company.

    • About Paul

      "I took over the team covering British business news in September 2008, just as Lehman Brothers collapsed and banks plunged into crisis. Prior to that, I ran Reuters operations in Ireland, covering the Celtic Tiger boom and IRA disarmament. From 2000 to 2004, I worked in Frankfurt reporting on the European Central Bank and making daily TV appearances on the BBC World Business Report. I have also reported from Athens and Dublin during the euro zone crisis. Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/pchoskins"
      Joined Reuters:
      1998
      Languages:
      English, French, German
    • More from Paul

    • Contact Paul

    • Follow Paul