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Weekend Round-Up

Sunday Times
Joe Lewis blocks Archie Norman from Mitchells & Butlers top job Billionaire currency trader Joe Lewis has blocked the appointment of newly appointed ITV chairman Archie Norman as non-executive chairman of pub group Mitchells & Butlers.

Lewis holds almost 23% of M&B's shares, the largest single shareholding, and also owns Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. He has blocked a number of moves by the company in the past, including a new share issue, which wouls have diluted his shareholding. M&B has experienced a boardroom exodus in the last two years, with the top three positions becoming vacant within that time.

Smaller firms 'to collapse'
Scottish accountancy firms readying their insolvency teams in expectation of a rise in company collapses in the new year.

Insolvency practitioners believe that the worst is yet to come north of the border as the recession tightens its grip on struggling firms and banks start to look more closely at impaired assets by increasing staff numbers in their impaired asset teams

Too much maternity leave hurts careers
Giving women an extended maternity leave could mean being deselected for top jobs, a new study from the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm, Sweden has revealed.

The findings show that the more committed to work-life balance a country tries to be, the less its women succeed in the workplace.

The study shows that new mothers who have a year or more off before returning to work often hit a "maternal wall". Employers assume they are not committed to their jobs and deny them the opportunities given to the childless

Independent on Sunday
Harrods: There is only one pension-fund sale
Mohamed al-Fayed, owner of Harrods, the upmarket London retailer is considering the sale of the store's £200 million pension.

Harrods is thought to be seeking to offload its pension obligations to more than 1,000 staff by selling the scheme to a specialist insurer. A so-called buy-in deal, where certain liabilities are insured rather than sold, is also being discussed.

Sunday Telegraph

RBS offers to cap lending fees for small businesses
The 84pc state-owned bank, and its subsidiary NatWest, have promised to limit fees charged to companies with a turnover below £25m for at least 12 months. Other banks offer fees as low as 1.5pc, but reserve the right to change rates every quarter.

The move comes amid accusations that RBS has been "blackmailing" companies by demanding they sign it up as an investment banking adviser in return for much-needed credit.

UK 'must find 600,000 new engineers in seven years' Government hopes of a revitalised manufacturing sector dragging Britain out of recession will be thwarted unless almost 600,000 engineers are recruited and trained over the next seven years, according to a report out this week.

The annual health check on the state of the industrial labour market from the Engineering and Technology Board, due out on Tuesday, shows that the sector needs to shatter its male-dominated image to tackle a potentially severe skills shortage.

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