Singapore investment fund Temasek has sounded out potential buyers for its 6bn pound stake in Standard Chartered, potentially reigniting talk of a takeover of the emerging markets bank. The fund, which is owned by the Singapore government, had been judging buyer interest for its 18 per cent shareholding in recent months, said people close to the situation. Bankers said earlier momentum for a sale fell last month as StanChart’s shares dropped 20 per cent on the day it was accused by a US regulator of breaching US sanctions on Iran. After settling the dispute with a $340m payment, the bank’s share price has rebounded, The Financial Times reports.
Britain’s biggest grocer is to stop carpet-bombing its customers with coupons. In a significant change of strategy, Tesco said yesterday that it was easing off its use of “blunt” coupons, in favour of making personalised offers. After a dire Christmas in which it was caught on the hop by rivals’ indiscriminate use of money-off vouchers — which culminated in a profits warning — Tesco hit back with a coupon blitz of its own. Rival executives claimed that the drive was unsustainable and yesterday Philip Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive, speaking at a newly refitted store in Bishop’s Stortford, switched the focus to its Clubcard loyalty scheme, saying that it was “as important today as it’s ever been,” The Times explains.
FTSE oil major British Petroleum has been negotiating with both the oligarchs – the AAR consortium – and state-controlled Rosneft over a possible sale of its stake, which analysts estimate to be valued at £15.4bn. AAR had, to date, been considering bidding for just half of BP’s stake, which would have given the oligarchs a 75% controlling share of the venture. But BP has made clear that it would not accept such an offer and has no intention of becoming junior partner to the oligarchs, with whom it has a long history of legal and governance disputes. That approach left Rosneft, which is considering a cash-and-shares offer for the whole of BP’s stake, as by far the most likely buyer. But sources close to AAR said on Monday that the oligarchs were now considering an offer for the entire stake. Such an offer would be taken seriously by BP, although AAR could make a lower bid than Rosneft, The Telegraph writes.
Germany’s central bank has launched a blistering attack on the International Monetary Fund, accusing officials of spraying around money like confetti and overstepping their legal mandate. “The IMF is evolving from a liquidity mechanism into a bank. This is neither in keeping with the legal and institutional role of the IMF or with its ability to handle risks,” said the Bundesbank in its monthly report. The bank said the Fund was right to help rescue Greece, Ireland and Portugal but said monitoring levels were slipping and there had been a “watering down” of standards. The scale of loans risks “overwhelming the IMF’s institutional structure”. The unprecedented attack came as the IMF’s chief, Christine Lagarde, called for urgent measures across the world to head off a fresh global slump. While praising the latest emergency measures of central banks in the US, Europe and Japan, she said this was not enough to secure recovery, The Telegraph says.
Scottish Hydro-owner SSE yesterday unveiled a senior management reshuffle that suggests the emergence of a succession plan for longstanding chief executive, Ian Marchant. Alistair Phillips-Davies has been promoted from his role as generation and supply director to the newly-created role of deputy chief executive – effectively second-in-command. Marchant’s ten years of occupying the top seat makes him one of the longest standing chief executives in the FTSE 100. Phillips-Davies, 45, joined the board of SSE the same year that Marchant, 51, was made chief executive.The new deputy chief will also oversee a new recruit to the business from the hotels sector, which will enable Phillips-Davies to “take a broader view of the SSE group”. The Perth-based utility giant has brought in Will Morris to take over another newly-created role, that of managing director, retail. Morris joins SSE from the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), where he was managing director, UK & Ireland, The Scotsman says.
Barriers to a £30bn merger between BAE Systems and EADS appeared to multiply as MPs launched an inquiry into proposals and Boeing branded state support of Airbus as “pernicious”. British defence giant BAE and Airbus owner EADS will have to jump through considerable political hoops if a deal has to be agreed, with approval from the British, French, German and US governments required. Britain’s cross-party Defence Committee underlined the potentially protracted nature of the deal as it announced it would examine the likely impact of a merger on British defence. “BAE Systems and EADS operate highly capable and sensitive defence businesses in many countries including the UK, the USA, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia and Australia,” the committee said, according to The Telegraph.