April 4, 2009 / 2:52 AM / 9 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - British business - April 4

The Times

GOODWIN SPURNS HAMPTON APPROACH OVER PENSION

Sir Fred Goodwin is not considering giving up some of his 703,000 pounds a year pension entitlement despite comments made by the chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L). Sir Philip Hampton had told investors at the bank’s annual meeting that he had suggested Goodwin take a reduction, adding that “it is something that he has been thinking about and he continues to do so”. However, a friend of Goodwin spurned Hampton’s approach on Friday night, saying that there had been no change to Goodwin’s stance on the issue.

EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK PREPARES TO GIVE GREEN LIGHT FOR CARMAKERS’ FINANCING PLAN

The European Investment Bank is to determine on Tuesday whether to award 500 million euros to Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan’s Sunderland factory for green technology development. The loans, which will be underwritten by the government, represent the first awards from a 2.3 billion pounds support package for the British car industry announced by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson in January. Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by Indian group Tata, has asked for an additional 500 million pounds in loan guarantees from the government for its operations in the West Midlands and on Merseyside but a decision is not yet imminent.

The Daily Telegraph

EX-HBOS CHIEF GIVES UP ONE MILLION POUNDS REDUNDANCY

HBOS HAL_pa.L has revealed that former chief executive Andy Hornby waived a 1.03 million pounds pay-off, leaving the troubled bank with no more than his statutory minimum redundancy of 2,970 pounds. Hornby and former chairman Lord Stevenson were the only directors to give up their pay-offs. Peter Cummings, the ex-head of the loss-making corporate bank, picked up 702,080 pounds, including 27,080 pounds in statutory redundancy. The 54-year-old executive, who also received a 700,000 pounds pension top-up, waived a contractual 1.32 million bonus, which meant he “received in total less than his legal entitlements”, the bank said.

MORE CUTS AT BA AS TRAFFIC FALLS

Another 300 jobs have been lost at British Airways BAY.L, at a cost of 35 million pounds, as part of a voluntary redundancy scheme aimed at pushing the airline back to profitability. The job cuts, which come on top of a pre-Christmas axing of 480 managers, were announced alongside BA’s March traffic figures which revealed a 13 percent slump year-on-year in first and business-class passengers and a six percent drop in economy. The airline’s planes flew 72.7 percent full, 6.4 percentage points worse than the same period last year.

ABBEY BUYS HQ

Abbey ANL_p.L has purchased its headquarters from British Land (BLND.L), the property company, in a deal worth 115 million pounds. The high street bank, which was taken over by Spain’s Grupo Santander (SAN.MC), bought the premises at 2-3 Triton Square, Regent’s Place, London. The 200,000 sq ft Grade A office is let entirely to Abbey on a lease due to expire in April 2022. British Land director Tim Roberts said the sale was at a 7.2 percent net yield. “As well a being a significant occupier at Regent’s Place, Abbey will now become an important stakeholder in this 13-acre estate,” he said.

The Independent

DAWSON HIT BY FURTHER CONTRACT LOSS

Dawson Holdings DWN.L, the magazine and newspaper distributor, said it expected its contract with Telegraph Media Group, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph, to end in the autumn, bringing the number of its lost lucrative deals to five. In March, Associated Newspapers and Comag said they would not sign a new contract with the company when the existing one expires in 2019. Frontline and Seymour Distribution have also said they will terminate their agreements with the distributor. For the half-year ended 28 March 2009, Dawson said it had “traded robustly”, despite challenging market conditions.

MILITARY ORDERS BOOST HAMPSON INDUSTRIES

Hampson Industries HAMP.L, the supplier of tooling services to the aerospace industry, revealed on Friday it was in a good position to deal with any downturn following the securing of two new deals with the U.S. military. The deals were worth more than 20 million pounds in total. The new orders led the company to forecast that it will meet its profit expectations despite weaker commercial aircraft and automotive markets. The news sent the shares up 1.8 percent to 96.75 pence. Hampson Industries is expected to report annual underlying profits of 35.3 million pounds.

WH SMITH LOOKS AT PICK’N’MIX

WH Smith (SMWH.L), the stationery and books group, has started offering pick’n’mix sweets as it weighs up plans to move into a market once dominated by Woolworths, the collapsed retailer. The group, which is expected to unveil profits of about 79 million pounds, already stocks confectionery but has started the pick’n’mix trials in a small number of its stores. Woolworths’ sales in this market were worth between 200 million pounds and 300 million pounds, according to experts.

The Guardian

FORD HAS “MORAL OBLIGATION” TO VISTEON WORKETS, UNION SAYS

Unite representatives have called on Ford (F.N) to meet its “moral obligations” to the sacked Visteon workers as protests continued at the car-parts manufacturer’s plants for the third day in a row. In a meeting with John Fleming, Ford’s European chairman, Unite’s joint general secretary Derek Simpson said the union will push for compensation, adding that “the unacceptable treatment of Visteon’s workers will be taken up with the senior management at Visteon”. Next week, officials from Visteon and Ford are going to hold a meeting with Simpson in Detroit to decide who is responsible for providing the redundancy payments.

AREVA CHAIRMAN QUITS AND ADDS TO TROUBLES AT NUCLEAR GROUP

French nuclear engineering group Areva CEPFi.PA, which is a part-manager of the Cumbria-based Sellafield atomic site, is expected to lose its chairman by next Friday, amid growing problems for the nuclear group. Frederic Lemoine’s departure comes at a bad time for Areva, as it is nursing 3.5 billion euros of net debt and needs a further 14 billion euros to meet expansion targets while facing the exit of Siemens (SIEGn.DE), one of its main investors. The company works closely with EDF (EDF.PA)>, which has just taken over British Energy, the UK atomic power provider, seeking to play a leading role in Britain’s atomic renaissance. EDF is looking to use Areva-designed reactors for a new generation of sites in the UK.

COMPETITION TEST MAY GO AHEAD DESPITE TESCO VICTORY

The Competition Commission’s proposal about the creation of a “competition test” has been thrown a lifeline after the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) decided on Friday to give the watchdog six months to refine its recommendation. The test, which is designed to stop one supermarket chain dominating a local market, is understood to be having a great effect on Tesco (TSCO.L) as Britain’s largest retailer. Last year, the supermarket chain sought a judicial review, saying the commission had not properly examined the financial impact of the test. In March, Tesco claimed a victory after the CAT upheld its complaint, agreeing that more analysis was required.

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

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