PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – June 7

Monday 7 June 2010

Financial Times

PWC HEAD APPEALS TO CABLE FOR CLARITY ON AUDITING RULES

Business Secretary Vince Cable has been urged by Ian Powell,
UK chairman of PwC, to make the “the ground rules” clear for
auditors amid concerns that the government could initiate a
competition inquiry into the Big Four accountancy firms. PwC,
Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young could also be subject of
regulatory inquiries in the UK and Europe about the role they
may have played during the financial crisis. Before entering the
government, Cable had suggested he was in favour of a
competition probe into the dominance of the four main
accountants.

FORMER POLAR CAPITAL TRADER RAISES $200 MILLION

Star trader Julian Barnett, who left hedge fund manager
Polar Capital a year ago, has raised almost $200 million for his
new venture, Ridley Park Capital. Barnett’s flagship fund,
launched at the beginning of May, has been one of the most
anticipated start-ups among London’s hedge fund community this
year. However, according to sources familiar with the situation,
he had initially hoped to raise as much as $500 million. Since
the financial crisis, fundraising has been very difficult for
new fund managers, even for those with strong track records,
such as Barnett.

WRIGLEY TO GIVE HABITAT A NEW LOOK

Restructuring specialist Hilco, which owns Habitat, the
loss-making furniture chain, has appointed Phil Wrigley as
executive chairman. Wrigley is a former chief executive and
chairman of the New Look clothing retailer. On Sunday, he
acknowledged there was a lot of work to be done in his new role.
Hilco acquired Habitat from the Ikano group, founded by the
Kamprad family, which owns Swedish furniture company Ikea.
According to Wrigley, Habitat may have been distracted by being
part of the Swedish family structure. He said “it is sometimes
the case that companies that are absolutely focused on one brand
can find it difficult to adapt and accommodate something that is
completely different”.

HBOS MANAGERS TO SURVIVE UNIT SALE

A deal expected to be agreed later this month will see
bankers at a private equity arm of HBOS (HBOS.L: ) continue to
manage its assets following the 500 million pound ($732 million)
sale of the unit’s investments by Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ).
Private equity firm Coller Capital is set to take a stake of
roughly 60 percent in the portfolio built up by the Bank of
Scotland integrated finance business, which was a part of HBOS.
Having bought at the top of the market, HBOS made heavy losses
on the stakes.

GOLDMAN HQ PRICE TAG SET TO TOP 300 MILLION POUNDS

The City of London headquarters of Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ), the
investment bank, will be put on the market this week by its
Irish owners with a price tag of more than 300 million pounds.
The move highlights how private investors are continuing to tap
into the rebound in prime London real estate. River Court, owned
by a syndicate of Irish investors, is the larger of the two
linked offices that form the investment bank’s European head
office on Fleet Street.

EDWARDS HIRES EXECUTIVES TO SEARHEAD CHANGES

On Monday, vacuum technology group Edwards will announce
that it has hired the recently departed heads of JCB and Jaguar
as its top two executives. The appointments, of Matthew Taylor
and David Smith as chief executive and finance director, are in
preparation for an initial public offering or sale of the
company. Taylor resigned after 18 months as chief executive of
JCB, the largest maker of earthmoving equipment in the UK, while
Smith quit as chief executive of carmaker Jaguar Land Rover
after it was acquired by Tata Motors.

RISING METALS PRICES SET TO HIT INSURER OF CHURCHES

According to Ecclesiastical Insurance, the country’s leading
insurer of places of worship and stately homes, a recovery in
the price of copper and lead has prompted a resurgence in the
theft of metals from church roofs. In the year to December, the
insurer moved from a small loss to a profit of 27 million
pounds, based on an 11 percent increase in gross written
premiums. The group attributed part of its recovery to
favourable weather conditions. It also observed that metal theft
from churches had eased, which helped the group to deliver a
record grant to its charitable owner, the Allchurches Trust.
However, metal claims are back on the rise. In the four months
of this year, the group counted 427 claims costing 995,000
pounds, compared with 190 claims costing 450,000 pounds in the
same period last year.

TUCKER IS TOUTED BY INVESTORS FOR RETURN TO PRU

Former Prudential (PRU.L: ) chief executive Mark Tucker could
replace the chairman or chief executive of the UK life assurer
following its aborted 24.6 billion pound bid for rival AIG’s
(AIG.N: ) Asian assets. Tucker emerged as a dark horse candidate
ahead of Monday’s annual general meeting. The AGM is likely to
see Prudential chairman Harey McGrath and chief executive
Tidjane Thiam face further criticism over the costs of the bid
for AIA, which collapsed last week.

CAUTIOUS FACTORIES START TO TAKE ON WORKERS

For the first time in two years, more manufacturers are
hiring than shredding workers, according to a quarterly industry
survey. However, the EEF manufacturers’ body, which conducted
the survey with accountants BDO, warned employers’ faith in the
recovery is fragile and expectations for orders and output are
muted. Despite this, the weak pound has helped orders and output
rebound, with record improvements between April and June a
contrast with record declines in the same period last year. The
difference between companies reporting increases and those
reporting decreases were 30 and 40 percent respectively. This
result represents the strongest figures since the survey began
15 years ago.

HEDGE FUNDS WIN G20 SUPPORT

G20 ministers are backing Britain’s hedge fund industry in
their struggle against over-restrictive European regulation.
Although measures for more improved “transparency, regulation
and supervision of hedge funds” were supported by the G20
meeting, ministers said the new rules should be implemented in a
“non-discriminatory way”. Both George Osborne, the chancellor,
and US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner fear that draft EU
regulations would make it harder for funds based outside Europe
to operate freely across the EU’s 27 member states.

Investing Analysis

($1=.6831 Pound)

PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – June 7