PRESS DIGEST – British business – Feb 1

The Times

KPMG HAS 600 MILLION POUND CONSULTANCY TARGET

Professional services group KPMG plans to treble consulting
revenues to 600 million pounds in the next four years. The
accountant has, over the past three months, poached 24 senior
consultants from competitors such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and
Deloitte. KPMG sold its original consulting practice to IT
services group ATOS Origin in the wake of the Enron scandal, and
has been rebuilding the division over the past four years. The
firm’s consultancy division currently employs 1,000 staff and
generates annual revenue of around 200 million pounds.

LSE GIVES PRIVATE INVESTORS CHANCE TO TRADE IN BONDS

A new bond trading service is to go live at the London Stock
Exchange on Monday that gives small private investors the
opportunity to purchase corporate bonds and gilts in quantities
small enough to be dealt with by an individual. The exchange and
the 21 private client brokers participating in the scheme are
hoping that the good performance of bonds over the past two
years will result in substantial interest from retail investors.

UNIVERSITY SPIN-OFF RAISES 17 MILLION POUNDS FOR DNA MAPPING

Oxford Nanopore, a small company spun out of Oxford
University, has raised 17 million pounds from City investors to
develop DNA mapping technology. The company hopes the
potentially revolutionary technology will result in a
significant reduction in the time and cost requirements of
reading the human genome. Currently mapping DNA requires several
staff and can take up to ten days at a cost around 30,000 pounds
per mapped genome. The Nanopore technology if adopted would see
results available almost instantaneously and at a very low-cost.

The Guardian

GLAXO COULD SLASH THOUSANDS OF JOBS IN COST-CUTTING DRIVE

The drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) is expected to
announce the latest wave of its 1.7 billion pound cost-cutting
drive alongside the company’s annual results on Thursday, which
is expected to include announcing the loss of thousands of jobs.
Glaxo chief executive Andrew Witty is spearheading a plan to
switch the focus of the pharmaceutical group towards
fast-growing emerging markets such as China. Analysts predict
the company will announce relatively healthy profits of 8.7
billion pounds, an increase of more than 11 percent on last
year, with a 16 percent increase in sales to 28 billion pounds.

TORIES WOULD END BT MONOPOLY

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said on
Sunday the Conservative Party would loosen BT’s (BT.L: ) hold on
the local telephone network and support changes to the
regulatory framework to allow private investors to pay for
better broadband cabling, which in-turn would encourage
competition in the sector. Osborne also suggested that 3.5
percent of the BBC licence fee currently used for the digital
switchover could be diverted to fund broadband expansion.
However, Labour said any tax on the BBC would benefit BSkyB
(BSY.L: ) and Carphone Warehouse (CPW.L: ), which is a donor to the
Tory party.

Daily Telegraph

FASHION RETAILER NEW LOOK PREPARES TO FLOAT

Fashion retailer New Look, which owns 586 stores across the
UK, is planning to float on the stock market. It is expected to
post an “intention to float” filing in the near future, possibly
as early as this week. A listing could value the company at up
to two billion pounds and would return it to public markets
after six years under the control of the private equity firms
Apax and Permira.

ITN EX-CHAIRMAN TO HEAD YOGA CHANNEL

The former chairman and chief executive of ITN, Mark Wood,
has been appointed as the chairman of Media Health and Fitness,
the fitness broadcaster that is the product of a tie-up between
Body in Balance and Fitness TV. Both brands, which each achieve
turnover of over a million pounds a year, will continue to
broadcast yoga, pilates and gym workouts on Sky TV. Woods said
growing health consciousness in the UK put enterprises such as
Media Health and Fitness in an excellent position.

RBS MAY SELL HQ IN PROPERTY REVIEW

Part-nationalised UK banking group Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.L: ) is considering selling and leasing back Gogarburn, its
main headquarters in Scotland, as part of a reassessment of its
4 billion pound property portfolio. Gogarburn was largely the
project of former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin, and its
sale would be a clear signal that the new management is
attempting to make a break from the past. The sale of Gogarburn
could be expected to raise in excess of 500 million pounds for
the company.

MORRISONS RECRUITS 5,500 STAFF TO APPRENTICE SCHEME

British supermarket chain Morrisons (MRW.L: ) is expected to
reveal on Monday that 5,500 members of its staff have signed up
to a government-funded apprenticeship scheme. The announcement
will come at the launch of Apprenticeships Week, and coincides
with a government announcement that more than 60 percent of
employers plan to recruit new staff this year. The same research
also says that 72 percent of businesses that use apprenticeships
believe that they were a positive contribution during the
recession. The government aims to have 20 percent of young
people in apprenticeships by 2020.

CANADIANS TO TAKE NORTHUMBRIAN MOVE

Speculation of a takeover by a Canadian pension fund, the
Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP), is expected to drive up
share prices of British water supply utility company
Northumbrian Water (NWG.L: ). OTPP currently owns a 27 percent
stake in the water company and has been rumoured to have been
talking to banks about raising debt to pay for the bid. The
initial offer could be made with a premium of 25 percent. The
Takeover Panel may push the pension fund into declaring its
intentions. Northumbrian’s six month profits to the end of
September rose by almost 10 million pounds.

The Independent

SUPERGROUP EXPLORES LISTING OPTIONS

SuperGroup, parent company to high street clothing retailer
Superdry, is planning a listing on the Alternative Investment
Market, though no firm date has been set for its debut. Peter
Bamford, who has held executive positions at Vodafone , Tesco
and Kingfisher, was last week appointed as the group’s new
chairman. Group founding partner and chief executive Julian
Dunkerton said: “It is a great privilege to have someone of
Peter’s calibre joining us. His global outlook and vast
experience at the highest levels will be invaluable as we move
through this exciting new phase of our development.”

DICKENS’ WINE SELLER SOURED BY RECESSION

Cockburn’s of Leith, Scotland’s oldest wine company, has
appointed Ernst & Young to try to find a buyer. Cockburn’s
attributed its collapse to competition from supermarkets and a
decline in orders from banking clients. Colin Dempster at Ernst
& Young said: “We are actively marketing the business for sale
and are keen to hear from any interested parties. The group has
been impacted by the recent economic downturn, which has
unfortunately led to a declining order book, and the directors
concluded that the business can no longer continue to trade.”

Stock Market Money

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – British business – Feb 1