The Barclay brothers are working on ways to structure a new deal to buy the Telegraph newspapers, including finding a private equity partner to launch a bid for the entire Hollinger International business. Should Ms Weir secure the job, she is set to become one of the most powerful women in the City, with a pay packet to match.Ms Weir is accustomed to high rewards. Some shareholders are thought to fear that Ms Weir lacks the firepower to tackle being finance director at Britain’s fifth-largest bank. But he did not survive long, and was ousted last month after ructions with Mr Daniels that are thought to have centred on the company’s dividend policy.The bust-up has caused some concern in the City that Mr Daniels, who took over at the bank in June, has a dictatorial style in the boardroom. Lloyds TSB is preparing a charm offensive with shareholders this week as Helen Weir, the former head of finance at Kingfisher, moves into pole position to take up the role of finance director at the bank.
Lloyds reports its full-year figures next Monday and it is thought likely that Ms Weir’s appointment, although not yet confirmed, will be announced alongside the results.The board, however, will have to convince shareholders that Ms Weir’s lack of experience in the banking sector will not hamper her ability to do the job, or allow Eric Daniels, its chief executive, free reign on the bank’s finances.Lloyds’ previous finance director, Philip Hampton, also joined Lloyds from outside the banking world, having masterminded the break-up of BT. The CEBR will revise its UK forecasts later this month.Douglas McWilliams, its chief executive, said: “The main reason for the more optimistic outlook is the confirmation that activity in the City and in the business services such as advertising is starting to pick up.”Separate surveys reinforced a growing consensus the corporate sector has survived the worst of the global downturn and is now looking to start investing. Its output index – which relates closely to GDP a quarter ahead – rose to the highest level since the index was first published in October 1997.All but one of the 46 City economists polled by Reuters last week said they expected the Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) to keep rates on hold at 4 per cent this week..
Fewer than one in five firms reported cashflow difficulties.Business confidence is at a six-year high, with strong growth expected in the middle part of 2004, according to the accountants BDO Stoy Hayward. Lloyds TSB Corporate said the number of companies experiencing cashflow problems was at its lowest level since its survey was first conducted in June 1992. London will propel the UK out of its economic downturn of the past three years and into the strongest boom since the late 1990s, according to new research to be published this week.
The capital’s economy is set to record growth of close to 4 per cent between 2005 and 2007, boosting the chances the Treasury will hit its ambitious growth targets but fuelling fears of further interest rates rises. The rebound is based on a strong surge in activity in core City sectors such as finance, accounting and law that will benefit from a return of income-generating mergers and acquisitions.The latest estimates by the Centre for Economics and Business Research seen by The Independent show the capital’s economy growing by 3.4 per cent next year, accelerating to 3.7 per cent in 2006, the strongest growth since the peak of the last boom in 2000. As of today, UK firms can’t sweep money laundering under the carpet.”Additionally from 1 April, companies dealing in cash payments exceeding £15,000 need to register with Customs & Excise, and to implement policies and procedures to protect themselves from being used by money launderers.. For instance, a cash transaction might signal an attempt to avoid VAT and must now be reported.Steven Philippsohn, a money laundering expert with legal firm Philippsohn Crawfords Berwald, said: “At present only 25 per cent of frauds are reported in the UK because companies are worried about the damage reporting such crimes can do to their reputation, and criminals exploit this. Tesco, J Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer have all rushed to open city centre outlets.
Sainsbury recently signed a deal with Bells, a North-east chain, and Tesco last month paid £53.7m for Adminstore, owner of Cullens Europa and Harts. A flotation of the business was also considered, but this is thought to be too difficult.If the board does proceed with KPMG’s recommendations, it would then have to secure 75 per cent support from shareholders.. Lawyers, auctioneers and casino operators are among thousands of professionals who face the threat of prison from today for failing to report suspected money laundering. It delivered its report on Friday to the non-executive directors of Londis, which is owned by the 2,000 shopkeepers that run its stores.Adrian Costain, the deputy chairman of the Londis shareholder action group, who is concerned that a move to sell the business would splinter the organisation, said yesterday: “This report could be very divisive and could lead to a break-up of the group.”Unless KPMG come up with serious recommendations and some very persuasive arguments, then we are in for a turbulent time.”There are a number of bidders already circling Londis, including Big Food Group, which owns the Iceland chain, and Somerfield.