PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 6

Financial Times

QINETIQ SET FOR CLASH ON REDUNDANCY PAY-OUTS

Leo Quinn, the head of Qinetiq (QQ.L: ), has revealed plans to
slash redundancy terms for thousands of the former government
research group’s UK employees. Union representatives have been
told that Qinetiq can no longer afford lucrative redundancy
terms for around half its former Ministry of Defence staff, who
are entitled to public sector-type conditions. Quinn is seeking
to end all collective agreements from Sept. 30. He plans to
reform them to take account of the company’s financial position
following its two recent profit warnings.

NICHE DEMAND SPURRING CITY RECRUITMENT

Headhunters and bankers have pointed to a recruitment spree
in the City, driven by niche financial groups, particularly
those targeting emerging markets. Groups such as Russia’s
Renaissance Capital and India’s Religare are leading the charge,
having seen enormous potential in markets such as Africa, India
and eastern Europe. The banks also see more opportunity from new
entrants, after the financial crisis caused some bigger groups
to scale down ambitions in even the fastest-expanding emerging
markets.

HARBOURVEST TO LIST EUROPEAN LOANS FUND

Private equity giant HarbourVest has announced plans to
raise more than 100 million pounds by publicly listing a fund in
London, which will invest in European leveraged loans. The group
is seeking to take advantage of an opportunity to invest in
senior secured loans of existing and new buy-out deals in the
mid market, for companies worth as much as 885 million pounds.
The move would create one of the first listed vehicles to invest
in buyout debt.

PRU AIMS TO SWITCH SHARES TO HONG KONG

Prudential’s (PRU.L: ) bankers are considering transferring
shares to Hong Kong as the UK insurer attempts to ensure its
stock can be traded on the local exchange when its rights issue
prospectus is released on April 29, according to a source close
to the company. The group needs to raise 13.7 billion pounds
through a share sale to support its ambitious 35.5 billion
dollar takeover of the Asian assets of AIG, the U.S. insurance
company.

TORY HOPEFULS LACK CONVICTION

Some of the Conservative Party’s own candidates are
unconvinced of the merits of its policies. According to a study
by the Financial Times, financial regulation, tax and climate
change were the most controversial areas of policy for would-be
Tory MPs. The study analysed the backgrounds of 206 candidates
in winnable seats. It found cracking down on banks, strictly
limiting carbon emissions and a less-than-rapid abolition of the
50 pence income tax band to be among the most unpopular
policies.

GRADUATES FORCED TO CLAIM BENEFITS

According to a survey by Totaljobs.com, the recruitment
website, more than a third of graduates claimed jobseeker’s
allowance in the past year because of employment conditions. The
survey polled 500 recent graduates, and found only six percent
have secured a graduate job. Two-thirds said they had taken work
just to pay bills. In the past year, 36 percent said they had
claimed jobseeker’s allowance, with half having claimed for
longer than six months.

FOUR CANDIDATES PLOUGHED 46 MILLION POUNDS INTO BANKS

Four Conservative candidates who have worked in local
government were responsible for investing a total of more than
45 million pounds in Icelandic banks that eventually failed.
Among 87 Tories with local government connections, Bob Blackman,
Allen Cullens, Marcus Jones and Mike Freer were all either
leader or finance minister in local authorities that invested
46.4 million pounds in failed Icelandic banks.

WHITEHALL BILL FOR CONSULTANTS HITS 1.7 BILLION POUNDS

In the past six years, the taxpayer has spent more than 1.7
billion pounds on consultants’ fees for Whitehall, it has
emerged. According to analysis of payments to the 12 largest
consultancy groups, central government spent 1.6 billion pounds
for the five years to 2008-09. Whitehall has also spent a
further 178 million pounds for 2009-10 so far. Annual spending
on consultants has soared more than five-fold in five years,
from 74 million pounds in 2004-05 to 388 million in 2008-09.

PROPERTY AVAILABLE TO BUSINESS SHRINKS

Research by NB Real Estate, a division of Capita Symonds,
has pointed to the first reduction in the amount of commercial
property available since records began in 1998. In 2008, some
1.2 million square metres of commercial property were taken out
of the UK property sector, after owners demolished empty
buildings that became a liability under empty rates legislation.
The research reveals much of the net losses were among former
factory sites.

COUNCIL FREESHEETS THREATEN LOCAL PRESS, WARN MPS

A committee of MPs is calling on the Office of Fair Trading
to investigate whether freesheets published by local councils
are threatening the existence of regional newspapers. The
cross-party culture, media and sports committee warns council
papers are imitating and competing with local commercial
newspapers, and are “misleading the public”. If the competition
watchdog responds to the call, it would mark a significant
victory for newspaper groups, which have long complained about
how freesheets are threatening their precarious existence.

Growth Stocks

PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 6