PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – Feb 1

Financial Times

PETROFAC TO SPIN OFF NORTH SEA ASSETS

Oil services provider Petrofac (PFC.L: ) is seeking to realise
the value of its energy investments by spinning off its North
Sea oil and gas assets. According to sources familiar with the
situation, the FTSE 100 group’s management has been holding
senior level talks over options for its billion-dollar portfolio
since last year. Its management has approached Goldman Sachs and
JPMorgan Cazenove, its brokers, to consider options for the
assets. The most likely course would be a demerger via a London
stock market listing. However, no final decision has been made
and any move would rely on market conditions.

CROZIER TO EARN UP TO 16 MILLION POUNDS IN FIVE YEARS AT ITV

The new chief executive of broadcaster ITV (ITV.L: ) could
earn up to 16 million pounds over the next five years, which is
less than predecessor Michael Grade received. Adam Crozier will
be placed on a basic salary of roughly 800,000 pounds, with an
additional 150 percent of that each year in short-term targets.
The outgoing Royal Mail [GBPO.UL] chief executive looks set to
receive a further five million pounds to six million pounds if
ITV performs better than its peers. However, the details of his
contract are still being finalised. The broadcaster’s shares
closed on Friday at 56.5 pence.

LOVERING TO UNITE WITH PERMIRA ON DFS BID

Veteran retail executive John Lovering has teamed up with
Permira, the buy-out house, to prepare a bid for sofa chain DFS,
which is being sold by its founder Lord Kirkham. Several other
private groups, including Cinven and Advent International, have
also been drawn to the auction for DFS, which is valued at
roughly 500 million pounds. Any deal would result in a windfall
for Kirkham, who is being advised by Goldman Sachs on a
strategic review of DFS.

OLYMPIC APPEAL FOR JOHN LEWIS

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis [JLP.UL], is
set to reveal that the retail chain is to become the appointed
store to the London Olympics. It is also likely John Lewis, the
winner of this year’s Christmas retail battle, will offer an
Olympic shop at its new store in Stratford, which borders the
Games site, and possibly at its flagship department store in
Oxford Street. The Olympic link could add to its appeal and
provide a further boost after record festive trading in spite of
the recession.

BA EDGES CLOSER TO GLOBAL ALLIANCE WITH IBERIA AND AMERICAN
AIRLINES

The planned alliance between British Airways (BAY.L: ),
American Airlines (AMR.N: ) and Iberia (IBLA.MC: ) has moved closer
to securing regulatory approval, after the European Commission
confirmed it had begun consulting with rival airlines.
Competition officials are now consulting with airlines, such as
Virgin Atlantic, about the concessions being offered by the
three carriers to address potential anti-competitive
implications of the tie-up. The confirmation from Europe’s top
anti-trust watchdog is a strong indication that talks between it
and the three carriers have been productive in recent months.

PAYMENT CHANGE TO BOOST SOLAR POWER

The government will announce new payments on Monday for home
energy generation, giving households and businesses far greater
incentive to install renewable energy technology. However, some
environmentalists say Energy Secretary Ed Miliband’s scheme
might not be enough to stimulate large-scale microgeneration.
Makers of generation equipment, such as solar panels and
wood-fired boilers, are hoping for a sales boost as households
look forward to hundreds of pounds a year from energy firms.

PROJECT FUNDING WOES FUEL FEARS FOR ECONOMY

According to a global survey by the Economist Intelligence
Unit, a lack of funds is the largest barrier to developing the
key infrastructure that Britain and the rest of the
industrialised world need to compete with China, India and other
rising economies. Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure at
KPMG, which commissioned the survey, said “not enough is being
invested in infrastructure to provide for our futures and boost
our economies”. The Treasury estimates that 200 billion pounds
needs to be spent on low-carbon energy, transport,
telecommunications, waste and energy infrastructure between now
and 2015.

EXPORTS OFFER GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR SMES

According to figures published on Monday by the CBI, smaller
manufacturers are seeing their first glimpse of an export-led
recovery. Optimism regarding export prospects is at its highest
level for 15 years, as overseas orders begin to stabilise
following seven quarters of decline. However, the employers’
body’s quarterly survey also showed domestic orders are likely
to remain depressed, with output expected to fall in the next
three months.

PUBLIC SECTOR FEARS SKILLS DEFICIT

Research by recruiter Hays (HAYS.L: ) has exposed public
sector managers’ concern that gaps in their training will leave
them lacking essential skills when spending cuts start to bite.
More than 1,000 chief executives, managers and junior staff
responded to the survey, across local and central government,
the health service and social housing. The majority said they
would have to turn to the private sector to solve their delivery
and management problems. Only 16 percent of managers believed
their employers had the organisational resources to tackle a
reduced budget.

Stock Market Research

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – Feb 1