Weekend Round-Up December 13 2009

Sunday Times
Guy Hands: Citigroup trying to break EMI
Guy Hands, the private equity owner of EMI has started a £1.5 billion lawsuit against his adviser Citigroup for allegedly lying about a suiter to the music giant two years ago.

Hands investment vehicle Terra Firma has also alleged the American bank attempted to make EMI bankrupt and so drive a merger with rival Warner Music.

Rival cities target banks over tax hit
Officials from New York, Hong Kong and Switzerland have launched a charm offensive to tempt investment banks from London, following the announcement of a one-off 50 per cent windfall tax from the Treasury last week aimed at city bankers who receive bonuses of over 25,000.

Several large banks have started to draft plans to divert business away from the capital to rival international centres.

Spinvox nears £92m takeover
Christina Domecq, co founder of troubled technology firm Spinvox looks to be out in the cold following a takeover from a US rival.

The troubled technology firm, which fell under a cloud after claims that most of its messages were transcribed in overseas call centres, is close to accepting a $150m (£92m) offer from Nuance Communications, the speech-recognition group because cash has run out and an attempt at a £200m stock floatation has foundered.

Nuance will ask co-founder Daniel Doulton to stay on, but it's unclear whether Domecq's role will survive. She is not likely to get anything from its disposal.

Revealed: the other two billionaires with a stake in Mitchells & Butlers
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith - both with backgrounds in betting shops but now powerful investors and big names in the world of horse racing - have separately used nominees and front companies to buy substantial blocks of shares in leisure group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B).

They are members of the "Sandy Lane set" of Barbados billionaires, which includes veteran currency trader Joe Lewis and horse-racing magnates JP McManus and John Magnier.

The holdings will add to the pressure on M&B, and its chairman Simon Laffin, who faces being ejected at the group's annual meeting next month and comes amid a remarkable boardroom bust-up at the company, which has unfolded over the past two weeks.

The pub group has called in the takeover panel to investigate whether "a number of shareholders" are working together to take control of the business without making a bid, and has fired their four boardroom representatives.

Sunday Telegraph
Fewer women find room at the top
A survey by headhunter Spencer Stuart, the number of companies with one or more woman non-executive directors has fallen to 63per cent compared to 72.6per cent in the same survey last year.

In overall terms the number of women that make up the population of directors in the largest companies fell from 10.5 per cent to just under 10 per cent.

The report said that in every measure of directors in the FTSE 150, excluding investment trusts, women were playing a reduced role compared to the previous year.

Barclays to defer 60 per cent of bonuses
Barclays Bank president Bob Diamond said that bonuses had to be better controlled with more remuneration paid in fixed income. He told the paper the bank had made mistakes in the past, but argued that although banks should not be split between investment and retail it was important that no institution was "too big to fail".

Independent on Sunday
Cadbury to tell hostile Kraft to beat it, or pay more
Chocolate maker, Cadbury, will tomorrow unveil its formal defence document, rejecting Kraft Food's £10bn hostile takeover bid.

The US processed food manufacturer's hostile cash-and-shares offer is currently worth 725p compared with the latest Cadbury share price of 787p. Analysts believe Kraft must pay at least 820p to 850p to win.

Westfield retailers demand another cut in service charges
High profile retailers have told Westfield London, the giant shopping mall, which celebrated its first birthday in October, that service charges need to be reduced again, following a summer cut.

The demands come as retailers head into the most important two weeks of the year.

Figures from the accountants, BDO, last week suggested that sales were holding up against the backdrop of heavy discounting. Total sales on the high street grew by 6.7 per cent during the first week of December.